The Disclosures Tribunal was told yesterday that Supt Dave Taylor is following proceedings on Twitter. #Hello Dave. The inquiry can’t be making for great tweet browsing for the former head of the Garda press office, writes.
A succession of his former colleagues in the press office gave evidence yesterday. They had differing views on Supt Taylor, ranging from “grand man to get on” with to “the kind of fella who was likely to harbour a grudge”.
Much of what was elicited in evidence concerned Supt Taylor’s management style, which sounded controlling yet efficient. Some got on with him, others didn’t.
Those who didn’t appear to have had a hard enough time of it.
One such was Sgt Damien Hogan, who is a veteran of the press office. He said towards the end of Supt Taylor’s tenure in the press office in the spring of 2014 he was thinking of packing it in, such was the disharmony he was experiencing.
What has living in harmony or otherwise in the Phoenix Park got to do with the tribunal? Supt Taylor has made the gravest of allegations about goings-on in HQ.
He has implicated himself and former commissioners Martin Callinan and Nóirín O’Sullivan in allegations that there was an orchestrated campaign to discredit Sgt Maurice McCabe with scurrilous lies about child abuse.
Supt Taylor says Mr Callinan directed this campaign and Ms O’Sullivan was aware of it. Both deny it, and over the last few days it has emerged that Supt Taylor’s former colleagues in the press office knew nothing of it either.
The evidence from the current and former press office staff has painted a largely unflattering picture of Supt Taylor.
Relationships became strained with a lot of personnel and (he got involved) in personal vendettas,” Sgt Horan told the inquiry.
“When he arrived first I was concerned with his management style,” Sgt James Molloy said. And so it went.
All the witnesses were concerned about how Supt Taylor kept attempting to get information from the office after he was transferred out of it by Ms O’Sullivan. The inquiry heard that over a three-month period he had 11,000 contacts with journalists after he left. This became the focus of a criminal investigation, which ultimately led to the DPP directing he not be prosecuted. The trawl through his time in HQ is largely concerned with examining his credibility as somebody bearing the most serious of allegations.
Of more interest than the life and times of Supt Taylor was the lack of knowledge, rumour or even interest in Maurice McCabe in the press office at a time when he was making press headlines.
All but one of the garda and civilian staff who gave evidence knew next to
nothing about Sgt McCabe back in 2014, when their boss at the time says he was spreading word that the Cavan-based sergeant was involved in child abuse.
They didn’t hear the rumours that were circulating in media and political circles. They didn’t talk much about the garda sergeant who was causing convulsions in the commissioner’s office, a stone’s throw from the press office.
They didn’t seem much interested in what was, by any stretch, a complete departure within the force — someone who was willing to speak up. One might imagine it was a case of See No Maurice, Hear No Maurice, Speak No Maurice.
The only exception to this rule was Sgt Molloy. He at least had heard rumours about Sgt McCabe and an allegation.
Meanwhile, the chairman Judge Peter Charleton began to get worried that Supt Taylor was missing all this bad stuff that was being said about him. He expressed surprise to Supt Taylor’s counsel that her client wasn’t present.
She said he was keeping an eye on things on a Twitter feed.
“I’m going to make a fool of myself and say I thought that you were limited to 20 words on a Twitter feed,” the judge said. Far from making a fool of himself, he was in the ballpark of Twitter’s limitations. Perhaps 20 or 30 words were all that Supt Taylor wanted to hear about reflections on how he ran the press office. The real action gets under way next week when we will hear from the man himself.