By Gerard Cunningham
Dail Deputy Mick Wallace has told the Charleton tribunal that he believes there was an orchestrated campaign to undermine Garda whistleblower Sergeant Maurice McCabe.
The tribunal is looking at allegations by Superintendent David Taylor that he was directed when he was Garda Press Officer to smear Sgt McCabe. Former commissioners Martin Callinan and Nóirín O'Sullivan deny there was any smear campaign
Mr Wallace told the tribunal that he met with Sgt McCabe about revelations made by Supt Taylor on 3 October 2016. He said the sergeant told him that Supt Taylor had confirmed what he had suspected, that there was a campaign to discredit him because of his efforts to expose Garda malpractices.
Mr Wallace and fellow TD Clare Daly subsequently met with Supt Taylor. Mr Wallace said he got the impression that phone text messages were used as part of the campaign to undermine Sgt McCabe.
"It's possible that he didn't specifically say that he sent texts out in text form but it was the impression I left his home with," Mr Wallace said.
Mr Wallace said that after Supt Taylor's evidence that no texts were used in the campaign, he phoned the superintendent to clarify if he had said to him that texts were sent. He said Supt Taylor's response was no. The TD said he was never told by any journalist about what Supt Taylor was saying about Sgt McCabe, "but our relationship with journalists is pretty poor”.
Mr Wallace said that when they met, Supt Taylor "did feel he was being unfairly treated. He did feel there were trumped up charges against him”.
"Given everything we have learned since, it's probably fair to say that he was embellishing how he was being treated," Mr Wallace said.
Mr Wallace said that he was given the impression that phones belonging to Supt Taylor were seized during a Garda investigation into media leaks "to get rid of evidence".
Mr Wallace said that he believed that Supt Taylor had told more of the truth in their initial meeting than he had in his evidence to the tribunal.
"I think he told us more of the truth in his living room than he told here," Mr Wallace said.
Mr Wallace said that when he met with Supt Taylor, he found him remorseful and genuine, and "in a bad place mentally".
"He did seem genuinely sorry that he had done serious damage to Maurice McCabe and his family. That was the impression that we got and we felt that he was being sincere," Mr Wallace said.
"He may have embellished how he was treated himself, but I actually believed what he was saying in relation to the orchestrated campaign against Maurice," Mr Wallace said.
Mr Wallace said he did not believe Supt Taylor "would have put his head above the parapet" if he had not "run foul of the authorities himself”.
Mr Wallace said that in hindsight, Supt Taylor "was being a bit economical with the truth", and it was up to the tribunal chairman to decide whether or not there had been an orchestrated campaign against Sgt McCabe.
"I'd say there had never been a judge in the history of the State told so many lies," Mr Wallace said.
"I believe that he was being truthful to us about the orchestrated campaign against Maurice. He was obviously less truthful about how he was being treated himself," Mr Wallace said.
Mr Wallace said that he first met with Sgt McCabe around 2012, and had ongoing contacts since then.
"For a good part of two years we were ridiculed and rubbished for anything we said. We were told we were barking up the wrong tree," Mr Wallace said.
Earlier, two senior RTÉ production staff told the tribunal of conversations they had with journalist Philip Boucher-Hayes about derogatory remarks made by former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan.
Mr Boucher-Hayes previously told the tribunal that in a conversation before a Crimeline programme in December 2013, Mr Callinan told him that Sgt McCabe had "psychological and psychiatric issues", and had done "horrific things, the worst kind of things".
In 2007 the DPP directed no prosecution after a Garda investigation into abuse allegations made by Miss D against Sgt McCabe, saying no evidence of a crime had been disclosed.
Niamh O’Connor, who was the commissioning editor for the programme, said that before the broadcast she asked Mr Boucher-Hayes to speak to Mr Callinan about questions he would be asked during the Crimeline broadcast.
Early the following year, Mr Boucher-Hayes told her in a conversation that the garda commissioner had said Sgt McCabe had "psychological and psychiatric issues”.
Tom Donnelly, a series producer on Drivetime in 2013, said that he had a conversation in late December with Mr Boucher-Hayes, probably on 30 December 2013, about the conversation with Mr Callinan.
Mr Boucher-Hayes first said words to the effect of "you might not believe this", Mr Donnelly said.
"He then proceeded to tell me the conversation he had with Mr Callinan and the references to Sgt McCabe. He said the commissioner had told him that Sgt McCabe had problems and he made references or allusions, and this is the word that stuck in my head, to the worst kind of things or the worst sort of things," Mr Donnelly said.
Mr Callinan gestured to Mr Boucher-Hayes that if he wanted more information, he should speak to a colleague he indicated down the hallway. Mr Donnelly said that Mr Boucher-Hayes did not name Supt Taylor.
Mr Donnelly said he felt that Mr Boucher-Hayes was "surprised" by what Mr Callinan told him, and later made efforts to follow up with an interview or response with Mr Callinan after the report of the O'Higgins commission of investigation was published. By that time, Mr Callinan had retired, and Mr Boucher-Hayes was unable to contact him.
Mr Donnelly said that he had been following the tribunal on social media, which was how he first learned that Mr Boucher-Hayes had named him at the tribunal. Mr Donnelly said he could not say if Mr Boucher-Hayes was concerned at what he was told by Mr Callinan.
"I think he was surprised that a senior Garda figure would say something like this to him," Mr Donnelly said.
John Barrett, the head of human resources in An Garda Síochána, a position equivalent to the rank of assistant commissioner, said that his minutes of meetings with Sgt McCabe were "fully complete". He added that he had not told the sergeant that a briefing to RTÉ journalist Paul Reynolds "came from Block One", the part of Garda HQ containing commissioner O'Sullivan's office.
"It is not recorded in the minute, it 's not in the statement I gave to the tribunal, it's not in my recollection," Mr Barrett said.