Leo Varadkar has told the Disclosures Tribunal that he first heard rumours about garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe from then Road Safety Authority CEO Noel Brett. But he disregarded innuendo about the garda and the rumours did not relate to the penalty points scandal, he has said.
In a letter and correspondence to the tribunal, Mr Varadkar has said:
“With regard to innuendo and rumours, I was informed of these by Noel Brett, the CEO of the Road Safety Authority, which fell under my remit as Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport. I don't recall the exact detail of the rumours but I do recall they related to his character and motivations, that he was untrustworthy and had other grievances unrelated to road safety.”
The letter and correspondence sent by Mr Varadkar to the tribunal concerns his period as transport minister.
It was in March 2014 that Mr Varadkar, as minister, described garda whistleblowers as "distinguished" as opposed "disgusting", a controversial term used by former garda commissioner Martin Callinan to describe their actions previously.
Nonetheless, the Taoiseach tells the tribunal by letter that he did not take the rumours around Sgt McCabe seriously. He adds in correspondence, signing off as Taoiseach:
"While I was aware of innuendo and rumours circulating about Sgt McCabe, I did not believe them to be true and in any case they did not take away from the evidence-based case he was making in relation to penalty points having been "squared"."
The tribunal is investigating whether there was a campaign by garda management to discredit Sgt Maurice McCabe.
Former PAC chairman John McGuinnes stood by his evidence today that he was shocked by claims by former garda commissioner Martin Callinan that Sgt McCabe was a child sex abuser and that he was not be trusted.
This allegations, the TD, says were made at secret meeting at hotel car park on the Naas Rd.
Mr Callinan denies this claim and says it was Mr McGuinness who raised the sex abuse allegations and that it was him who mentioned the issue of a file on Sgt McCabe.
Lawyers for Mr Callinan quizzed Mr McGuinness today, questioning his recollection of events and asking if he was confused about conversations.
The TD denied he was and stood by his claims that there were efforts to stop a PAC investigation into the penalty points investigation and that the former garda chief was trying to discredit Sgt McCabe. The tribunal continues.