Former commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan said she “neverever” considered Sergeant Maurice McCabe to be malicious and said she had no reason to “challenge or impugn his integrity”.

She told the Disclosures Tribunal — which is examining if Ms O’Sullivan inappropriately relied on unjustified grounds to discredit Sgt McCabe at the O’Higgins commission in 2015 — that it was “neverever about the man” but about “testing” the validity and accuracy of his allegations of corruption and malpractice.

The strategy of her counsel to challenge his motivation at the O’Higgins inquiry caused a “heated” legal row on May 15, 2015, resulting in urgent clarification being sought from the commissioner to reconfirm her instructions.

Asked to explain what intention she had in sanctioning a legal strategy to question the motivation of Sgt McCabe, Ms O’Sullivan said that this did not suggest he was operating with a “bad motive” or “improper motive”, but that counsel should get an “understanding” of the basis of his complaints and to “test” that.

In her first day of evidence, Ms O’Sullivan said she never believed that Sgt McCabe was acting on anything other than “appropriate concerns” — and that was always her position.

She disagreed with suggestions from tribunal counsel Kathleen Leader SC that she suspected that Sgt McCabe had become embittered with the Garda organisation.

But she said Sgt McCabe may have become “very frustrated” when local management refused to circulate the decision of the DPP in a case involving an allegation of child sexual abuse against him, which the DPP ruled was not a crime and should not be prosecuted.

Questioned at length what she meant in agreeing with counsel advice to challenge Sgt McCabe’s motivation, Ms O’Sullivan said it was to set out to the O’Higgins commission the “full circumstances and background” regarding his interactions with local management and his behaviour after they refused to circulate the DPP directions.

She said it was to establish the reasons behind his conclusion that the incidents of poor policing in Cavan/Monaghan he was alleging amounted to corruption and malpractice.

Ms O’Sullivan said after she assumed the role of acting commissioner in March 2014 she reinstated Sgt McCabe’s access to Pulse.

She said she rang Sgt McCabe and gave him her “absolute commitment to support him” regarding his workplace issues.

She said she made it clear publicly that it was an “imperative” to be supportive of people, including whistleblowers, to speak up. She said while whistleblowers may not always be right, they were right to raise the issues.

Ms O’Sullivan said she reiterated that in a face-to-face meeting with Sgt McCabe and his legal advisors in August 2014 and again in February 2015.

Former commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan said she “neverever” considered Sergeant Maurice McCabe to be malicious and said she had no reason to “challenge or impugn his integrity”.


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