At 3.25pm yesterday Sgt Maurice McCabe broke down. He had been giving evidence since 10.12am with an hour break. For much of the day he was brought through the jagged and often painful odyssey which has dominated his life for over a decade.
His evidence began with the completely discredited allegation from the daughter of a colleague in 2006 that he had inappropriately touched her eight years earlier. McCabe had been involved in the disciplining of the girl’s father.
He was completely exonerated of the allegation, but questions remain over how the fallout from the whole matter was handled.
He was brought through that opening episode yesterday and then onto what befell him after he first made complaints of malpractice in the force in 2008.
Repeatedly, tribunal lawyer Patrick Marrinan asked him how he felt on occasion on which he felt under attack.
Nearly every time these matters were canvassed with him yesterday, McCabe, who appeared in his garda uniform, answered in short sentences largely starved of emotion.
In an age when emoting appears to be central to most aspects of public life, he came across as old school, where stoicism is only abandoned behind closed doors.
For instance, he was asked about a delay in officially receiving the directions from the DPP exonerating him. This was a life-altering event, yet the sergeant said of the delay: “I was annoyed.”
He was asked about a circular to stations in Cavan/Monaghan that rubbished his allegations — nearly all of which were subsequently upheld — and which cast him as something of a fantasist. “It was a kick in the teeth,” was all he had to say.
Then the “disgusting” remark was put to him. This dated from January 2014, when former Garda commissioner Martin Callinan told the Public Accounts Committee that McCabe’s actions in making complaints was “disgusting”.
“When I heard that it was, you know… hard to take.”
All of these matters impacted hugely on the Co Cavan-based sergeant, but it apparently isn’t in his nature to express the depth of negative emotion to which they gave rise.
Then, at 3.25pm, another matter was touched on, involving scurrilous allegations that he had abused family members. Mr Marrinan introduced this by asking him about a meeting he had with TD John McGuinness — who had been chair of the PAC in 2014 — in May 2016.
He related how McGuinness told him he had met Martin Callinan the day after Callinan’s appearance at the PAC in 2014 in a car park on the Naas Road outside Dublin. At this point, McCabe lapsed into silence. Sobs could be heard in the witness box. Judge Charleton adjourned for 10 minutes.
When he returned, the witness had this to say about what the TD told him.
“He [McGuinness] said he met former commissioner Callinan [who said] I wasn’t to be trusted and that I had abused all my children and my nieces.
“He [McGuinness] also said that he [Callinan] grabbed his arm as he was getting out of the car and said it’s very serious, it’s very serious.
“I remember driving home that evening and I didn’t know which way I was driving, was it the N3 or the old road.”
A few days after that meeting between the TD and sergeant, John McGuinness went into the Dáil and gave a statement to the same effect. Martin Callinan denies making any allegations about Maurice McCabe.
The evidence, and McCabe’s uncustomary reaction to it demonstrated how deeply impacted he had been as a result of the scurrilous rumours which he believes were designed to destroy him.
Once that was dealt with the lawyer brought McCabe onto another meeting, this one with Superintendent David Taylor, former head of the Garda Press Office, in September 2016. (Declaration of interest: McCabe told the tribunal that he became interested in Taylor after receiving information from this correspondent).
Taylor had been suspended on an unrelated issue at the time.
According to McCabe, the superintendent said he wanted to confess about activity dating from his time in the press office (which he had left in 2014).
“He said there was an orchestrated campaign to attack me and it was in the form of a whispering campaign, phonecalls and text messages. He said he was ordered to do this by Martin Callinan.”
The alleged campaign involved briefing senior gardaí, politicians and journalists that McCabe had questions to answer in relation to child sexual abuse, which was entirely false.
Taylor also said former commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan — who in 2013-14 was deputy commissioner — was aware of the campaign.
“He got upset in relation to what he was telling me and when he was upset his wife told me he was with a spiritual person and he had to confess all that he was saying to me,” McCabe said.
Taylor, the tribunal was told, will dispute much of this, particularly in relation to text messages.
At the end of the day, McCabe looked to be emotionally drained. His appearance had thickened the public gallery.
Christy Moore was in attendance, probably as a result of his own well documented interest in matters of justice and injustice.
Former garda John Wilson, who travelled some of the road with McCabe, was also there.
As was Mary Lynch, whose case McCabe had highlighted. She was the victim of a vicious assault, and believes McCabe did much to address the wrongs in her case, for which she blames management in An Garda Síochána. Her presence highlighted the esteem that the sergeant is held in by the victims of the crimes which he reported had not been properly investigated.
Today, he is due to be cross-examined by counsel for garda management.
‘He kept saying I destroyed you’
Garda whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe said Superintendent Dave Taylor, the former Garda press secretary, told him he was ordered to spread rumours that Sgt McCabe had been investigated for sexual assault.
Sgt McCabe said Supt David Taylor “was in bad shape” when they met in 2016, and “you could see that he was distressed or stressed”. “He kept saying I destroyed you. And I said I want to know what you did to me,” Sgt McCabe said.
Sgt McCabe said he was told there was an orchestrated campaign to destroy him “in the form of whispering, of phone calls, of texts”. Supt Taylor told the sergeant this was done “on the authority” of ex-commissioner Martin Callinan, Sgt McCabe said.
Supt Taylor told the sergeant he would receive text messages from Mr Callinan, and he would then forward these to journalists, the inquiry heard yesterday.
Supt Taylor also said he would always send the texts to Nóirín O’Sullivan, and she would reply “that’s perfect” and Supt Taylor would then send them on, Sgt McCabe told the tribunal.
Sgt McCabe said he was told Ms O’Sullivan “was the pusher and she knew everything that was going on”.
Mr Callinan and Ms O’Sullivan deny the allegations of a smear campaign against Sgt McCabe.
The sergeant told the tribunal that he met Supt Taylor at his house with his wife while Supt Taylor had been temporarily suspended in September 2016.
He said Mr Taylor told him that there was a “constant obsession” with Sgt McCabe, and if an article or interview appeared about the sergeant, Martin Callinan would say “use your phone and do him down. He has to be buried.”
“Martin Callinan would encourage David Taylor to spread the rumours about me, the fact I had been investigated for sexual assault,” Sgt McCabe said.
The historic assault complaint in 2006 led to a garda investigation, and a recommendation from the DPP again a prosecution as there was no evidence any assault had taken place.
Sgt McCabe said he was told there was an intelligence file on him in Garda HQ, and an officer was designated to monitor his activities on PULSE.
The tribunal had to adjourn briefly as Sgt McCabe became upset as he recalled a meeting with Fianna Fail TD John McGuinness.
Sgt McCabe said Supt Taylor’s wife Michelle Taylor told him that Supt Taylor had met “a spiritualist” and felt he had to confess what he had done. She told Sgt McCabe that they had believed all the allegations that they heard about him.
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