The senior garda at the centre of the Charleton Tribunal has been threatened with possible disciplinary action, the Irish Examiner has learnt.
Supt David Taylor, the former head of the Garda press office, has alleged in a protected disclosure that Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan was part of a smear campaign orchestrated at Garda headquarters against whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe.
Supt Taylor is understood to have received notification yesterday that he may be disciplined over another issue which predated his allegations against the commissioner.
He is only back at work since February 14 after being suspended for 22 months while a criminal investigation into whether he disclosed the names of children to the media was investigated.
He was arrested in that investigation which was led by the commissioner’s husband, Chief Supt Jim McGowan. A file was sent to the DPP which stated there was no grounds for prosecution but, while that decision is believed to have been made late last year, Supt Taylor was not notified of it until last month, at a time when the whistleblower controversy arose again.
While suspended last September, he made a disclosure in which he alleged Ms O’Sullivan and her predecessor Martin Callinan were part of a campaign that set out to malign Sgt McCabe’s character in the media.
That disclosure led to the setting up of the Charleton Tribunal — also known as the Disclosure Tribunal — into his allegations.
Now, Supt Taylor has been notified the file into that matter is under review.
When a member of the force has been cleared of a suspected offence following a criminal investigation, it is common for him or her to be subjected to a disciplinary process.
However, Supt Taylor’s situation is unique in that he has made allegations against the commissioner which are now the subject of a tribunal.
Senior garda sources said that disciplinary proceedings began before Supt Taylor became a protected discloser and before the tribunal was set up.
Those proceedings were said to have been put into abeyance to allow the criminal investigation to be carried out and for it to be completed – and that Supt Taylor would have understood this.
Sources explained that once the criminal investigation finished, the disciplinary proceedings were back in the frame, as per standard procedure.
When contacted, the Garda Press Office said they could not comment on internal disciplinary matters.
In relation to the letter, it is thought that Garda HQ's position is that they have a duty to tell a garda in such situations that their file is being reviewed once a criminal investigation has completed.
This is to inform the garda that a review is taking place and to allow for any submissions.
The Garda HQ position is understood to be that if the garda was not informed that a review was taking place, and only subsequently informed of its decision, it would breach fair procedure and the right to reply.
The argument is that the review has to be based on a rational assessment of the factors, including the existence of a public inquiry and the fact that Supt Taylor is now a protected discloser, before any decision is made.
The options open to the review are either to abandon the proceedings, put them on hold pending the outcome of the inquiry, or to continue with them.
However, one garda source said he was “baffled” at the decision to send Supt Taylor the letter.
“I understand the discipline thing is there and he [Taylor] knows it's there, and that this is standard, but Dave Taylor has made a protected disclosure and the tribunal is up and running. This adds fuel to the fire. And there's the perception: it does not look good.”
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