Martin Callinan’s SIM card should be recreated, says Howlin

Labour leader concerned Fennelly never got access to Garda commissioner’s card

Former Garda commissioner Martin Callinan. Brendan Howlin has said it was a ‘worry’ that  Mr Callinan’s SIM card had never been accessed by the Fennelly Commission. File photograph: David Sleator/The Irish Times

Former Garda commissioner Martin Callinan. Brendan Howlin has said it was a ‘worry’ that Mr Callinan’s SIM card had never been accessed by the Fennelly Commission. File photograph: David Sleator/The Irish Times

 

The Garda should “recreate” the missing SIM card from the mobile phone of former Garda commissioner Martin Callinan to test whistleblowers’ allegations of a smear campaign, Labour leader Brendan Howlin has said.

Mr Howlin said it was a “worry” that the SIM card had never been accessed by the Fennelly Commission, which last year issued a report on the circumstances in which Mr Callinan vacated the post of Garda commissioner.

He said the commission’s work had been compromised as a result.

“The most serious allegation made is that there was an orchestrated campaign to not only undermine – and the word demolish was used – whistleblowers, ” he said of the fresh allegations.

He said it was important “the culture of nurturing and supporting whistleblowers is embedded in An Garda Síochána”.

If there is any evidence that would link any Garda member to an effort to undermine a whistleblower, “then that person shouldn’t be a member”.

Unanswered questions

Mr Howlin said the fact that Mr Callinan’s SIM card was not available to the commission did not incriminate him.

Asked if the absent SIM may affect the inquiry by Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill into the allegations, Mr Howlin said: “It’s a worry in as much as if it’s there then it can be eliminated . . . There’s unanswered questions hanging and that’s very unsatisfactory.

“There’s nobody better placed than An Garda Síochána themselves to recreate a lost SIM.

“I think there are probably forensic mechanisms to re-check any communications. But I say that without making any allegations.”

Mr Justice O’Neill was appointed to examine two new protected disclosures made to Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald in the last 10 days.

Both allege a smear campaign against Sgt Maurice McCabe.

Phone seized

The civilian head of human resources in the Garda, John Barrett, has drawn up two reports, which were given to the Tánaiste in August and September, also dealing with allegations. These will be examined by Mr Justice O’Neill.

In one of the disclosures, former head of the Garda press office Supt Dave Taylor has alleged the existence of texts sent from Garda headquarters with the aim of smearing Sgt McCabe.

Supt Taylor has been suspended from work since last year and is being investigated for leaking information to the media.

His mobile phone has been seized as part of that inquiry, though his disclosure claims the phone will support his claims of a smear campaign.

Asked about Labour leader Brendan Howlin’s call for the SIM card of the former commissioner Martin Callinan to be reconstituted, the Tánaiste said on Monday it was open to the judge to suggest further action.

“It is open for him to comment on those issues where questions of evidence may or may not arise, whether its with phones or something else.

“This particular issue that Brendan Howlin has raised I am not in a position to answer that today.

“If something like that was of relevance to the judge he would be making recommendation in relation to it

“The key point is it is open to the judge to recommend to me that further action is needed. If further action is needed that’s what I will be doing,” she said.