Former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan is under mounting pressure to explain why he said whistle-blower Maurice McCabe “could not be trusted” during a secret meeting with ex- Public Accounts Committee chair John McGuinness.
Last night, there were clear signs that Mr Callinan acted alone in seeking the meeting with Mr McGuinness. Current Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan said she was “not aware” of any private meeting between the two men as outlined by Mr McGuinness in the Dáil last week
“Commissioner O’Sullivan was not aware of any private meeting between former Commissioner Callinan and Deputy McGuinness as outlined by Deputy McGuinness in the Dáil,” her spokesman said.
The meeting — on January 24, 2014 — happened in the car park of Bewley’s Hotel on the Naas Road, six days before Sgt McCabe appeared a private session of the PAC.
Mr McGuinness said Mr Callinan sought to stop Sgt McCabe from being brought before the committee.
The former commissioner has remained tight-lipped since the meeting was reported and was not responding to calls last night.
Mr McGuinness strongly rejected criticisms of his decision to only reveal his secret meeting with ex-Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan last week.
Mr McGuinness, speaking to the Irish Examiner, has defended his decision to reveal the controversial meeting in the Dáil last Thursday.
Mr McGuinness was pressed yesterday as to why he did not reveal the meeting to the recently completed O’Higgins Commission.
Yesterday, Mr McGuinness said: “That meeting was not relevant to the terms of the O’Higgins Commission. Perhaps I could have mentioned it but I did so in the context that the whistleblower Sergeant Maurice McCabe is still being questioned as to his motive.
“My decision to stay quiet at the time allowed for McCabe to come before the PAC at the time and my decision has been vindicated.”
“Serious questions remain unanswered, including is there a continued culture of cover up within the Garda force, the whistleblowers that are under siege in that force.”
However, the Kilkenny TD said he had “made the call having heard the O’Higgins report, and having listened to the debate that it was time to put on record a piece of proof that the culture within the force continued in the vein that militated against Sergeant Maurice McCabe”.
Former PAC deputy chairman Kieran O’Donnell also called for clarity around “the precise chronology, the sequence for the meeting and how long after the request for it was it held needs to be clarified”.
The meeting should have been brought to the attention of committee members, the former Limerick Fine Gael TD said.
Former PAC member and Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald said there were “well-founded” reasons for not disclosing it at the time.
She said the priority had been to get Sgt McCabe to give evidence in the committee about abuse of the penalty points by gardaí.
However, Ms McDonald called on Mr McGuinness to further reveal what exactly Mr Callinan told him about the whistleblower.
She also said he should have brought details of the Callinan meeting to the O’Higgins commission of investigation.
Ms McDonald called for an immediate response from Mr Callinan on the issue.
In a statement to the Irish Examiner, a spokesman for Ms O’Sullivan said: “In relation to whistle blowers, Commissioner O’Sullivan has consistently stated that dissent is not disloyalty and as a service we are determined to learn from our experiences.
“An Garda Síochána agrees that whistleblowers are part of the solution to the problems facing the service.”
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