Callinan said Sgt McCabe was child sex abuser – Tribunal

Callinan and Taylor ran two-man campaign against Garda whistleblower McCabe

Former Garda commissioner Martin Callinan described whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe as a child sex abuser, the Disclosures Tribunal has found.

And Mr Callinan personally tried to denigrate Sgt McCabe to several people. These included John McGuinness TD, John Deasy TD, Comptroller and Auditor General Seamus McCarthy and RTÉ journalist Philip Boucher Hayes.

In a nuanced ruling on the central issue about whether Sgt McCabe was smeared, Mr Justice Charleton said a "campaign of calumny" against Sgt McCabe was engaged in by Mr Callinan and his head of the Garda Press Office at the time, Supt David Taylor.

This was limited to the two men and involved “much nodding and winking” about an historical child sex abuse allegation which was made against Sgt McCabe.


At the same time they were also stating to the same people there was no truth to the allegation and that no crime ever took place.

The tribunal was "not convinced" that Mr Taylor had smeared Sgt McCabe to nine key journalists. Mr Justice Charleton doubted the reporters were ever encouraged to write negatively about Sgt McCabe or to even think "less of him".

On the origins of what was repeatedly described as a “campaign of calumny”, Mr Justice Charleton did not believe Supt Taylor was acting on orders from Mr Callinan, as Supt Taylor claimed.

“The tribunal is convinced he [Supt Taylor] pursued a scheme that somehow evolved out of his cheek-by-jowl working relationship with commissioner Callinan,” he concluded.

"Their plan was that there was to be much nodding and winking and references to a historic claim of sexual abuse while, at the same time, saying that the Director of Public Prosecutions had ruled that even if the central allegation did not have credibility issues, what was described did not amount to an offence of sexual assault or even an assault."


And while it had been alleged by Supt Taylor, and in turn Sgt McCabe, that the then deputy Garda commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan knew of a campaign to smear Sgt McCabe, she is exonerated by the tribunal.

However, by far the most damning finding of the tribunal is that Mr Callinan told John McGuinness TD that Sgt McCabe had sexually abused his own children and another person.

Mr McGuinness told the tribunal he met Mr Callinan in the Bewley’s Hotel car park near Newlands Cross, west Dublin, in January 2014.

Mr Callinan insisted to him that Sgt McCabe was not to be trusted. And he said Mr McGuinness, as chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) at the time, had "made a grave error" in inviting Sgt McCabe to give evidence before the committee.

“He said to me that . . . [Sgt McCabe] had sexually abused his family and an individual,” Mr McGuinness said.

Mr Callinan, in his evidence to the tribunal, said he did not at any point “speak in derogatory terms of Sgt McCabe nor would I”.

However, faced with the conflicting accounts on such a serious issue, Mr Justice Charleton said he believed the McGuinness version.

“The conversations as described by John McGuinness TD took place,” according to the report.

PAC meeting

Mr Callinan had appeared at a PAC meeting in January, 2014. At that PAC meeting Mr Callinan was informed the committee was preparing to invite Sgt McCabe before it later that month.

Mr Justice Charleton said Mr Callinan felt a “frontal assault” was needed to stop Sgt McCabe appearing before the committee.

Mr Callinan spoke to Comptroller and Auditor General Seamus McCarthy and John Deasy TD about Sgt McCabe outside the January, 2014, PAC meeting.

The tribunal accepted Mr Callinan mentioned sex abuse to Mr McCarthy and spoke in very derogatory terms about Sgt McCabe to Mr Deasy. And Mr Callinan days later met Mr McGuinness in the west Dublin car park to try to convince him Sgt McCabe was a child abuser and should not be trusted.

Mr Justice Charleton also accepted that Mr Callinan told Mr Boucher Hayes he could relay to him “the worst possible kind of things” about Sgt McCabe. Mr Callinan told him if he needed any information he should speak to Supt Taylor. The tribunal also accepted this and saw it as proof of a scheme between Mr Callinan and Mr Taylor.

Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times