Former Garda commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan has told the Charleton Tribunal she “did not feel comfortable” in the presence of former garda press officer Superintendent David Taylor, and at “times he appeared to be a divisive individual”.
The tribunal is examining allegations by Supt Taylor that he was directed to brief the media negatively on whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe by former commissioner Martin Callinan, and that Ms O’Sullivan was aware of this. Both former commissioners deny this.
Ms O’Sullivan said it seemed that Supt Taylor did not respect the professionalism of his boss, civilian communications director Andrew McLindon, and “there was division and the office wasn’t working well together”.
Ms O’Sullivan said she felt it was important to build a media unit that would work well together and she felt Supt Taylor should be transferred to other duties.
Tribunal chairman Mr Justice Peter Charleton confirmed with barrister Michael O’Higgins, representing Supt Taylor, that his client was not saying that Ms O’Sullivan had interfered with his mobile phones.
Mr Taylor was also no longer alleging the former commissioner inserted her husband into an investigation against him, or had a role in Supt Taylor’s arrest in 2015, following a garda investigation into media leaks.
Conor Dignam, on behalf of An Garda Síochána, asked Ms O’Sullivan if it gave her any comfort that Supt Taylor had withdrawn many of the allegations in his protected disclosure.
Journalist Gemma O’Doherty told the tribunal that she first heard rumours about Sgt McCabe when former garda John Wilson called her and said: “You won’t believe what they’re saying about him now.”
Ms O’Doherty said she did not give the rumours any credence, but she did speak to Mr McCabe about them.
“I had no time for anyone who was suggesting this. I knew it to be utterly untrue,” said Ms O’Doherty.
Ms O’Doherty said she had no proof that a copy of the garda file had been given to journalist Paul Williams, but it was her understanding and belief. Ms O’Doherty confirmed to barrister Michael McDowell, representing Sgt McCabe, that the sergeant was not the source of a story about former commissioner Mr Callinan having penalty points wiped.
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