The Disclosure Tribunal has set out an ambitious timeline to investigate allegations of orchestrated smear campaigns against garda whistleblowers, writes Elaine Loughlin and Fiachra Ó Cionnaith.
The first interim report of the tribunal chaired by Mr Justice Peter Charleton said “nothing increases expense more than delay” and it will press ahead with speed. The tribunal, set up in February, will now break its work into five “substantial” sections.
The creation of a Tusla file containing false sexual allegations against whistleblower Maurice McCabe will be looked into first and the tribunal hopes to have this completed by July’s end.
The report given to the clerk of the Dáil yesterday states it is of “pressing pubic concern” to find out if these files “were created and distributed or otherwise used by senior members or our police force in inventing or furthering a false allegation of sexual abuse against Sergeant Maurice McCabe.
“Progress in this matter has moved very far but the analysis of relevant computers is essential and there are further interviews to be conducted in our investigations.”
The tribunal will then move onto allegations relating to Garda Keith Harrison and this work will be carried out in September.
The third section of the tribunal will focus on allegations when Garda press officer Supt David Taylor was ordered by former commissioner Martin Callinan and then deputy commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan to negatively brief journalists about Sgt McCabe.
This will also include another section focusing on a meeting between Mr Callinan and John McGuinness.
Judge Charleton said these two would be combined as “evidence on one may be of assistance in the determination of what attitude was taken by those senior officers” to Sgt McCabe.
The tribunal will then move to a “relatively short” module on allegations that an RTE broadcast on May 9, 2016, was influenced or dictated by Ms O’Sullivan.
The judge has written to a number of journalists about contacts they may have had with gardaí and the report detailed representations made on behalf of those in various media groups.
Tribunal counsel is due to give a further update in the first or second week in June.
Meanwhile, the cross-party Dáil public accounts committee will this morning hear official calls to bring in Ms O’Sullivan, three former garda commissioners and other officials from next week over the ongoing garda college financial scandal.
The request will be made by a number of PAC members as part of a written list of potential witnesses and documents each member has been asked to compile as part of the PAC’s ongoing investigation into the controversy.