Callinan told Shatter about abuse allegation against McCabe

Former Garda commissioner tells tribunal minister asked about whistleblower’s background

Former minister for justice Alan Shatter with former Garda commissioner Martin Callinan. File photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Former minister for justice Alan Shatter with former Garda commissioner Martin Callinan. File photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

 

Former Garda commissioner Martin Callinan has told the Charleton tribunal he informed then minister for justice Alan Shatter of an historical allegation of child sexual assault against Garda whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe.

In his submission to the tribunal, which is trying to establish whether Sgt McCabe was subjected to a smear campaign, Mr Callinan said he had a telephone conversation with Mr Shatter in 2013 in which Sgt McCabe was discussed.

“In late 2013, I spoke with the then minister for justice, Alan Shatter TD,” he writes.

“This was in connection with the report prepared by Assistant Commissioner John O’Mahony, which I believe minister Shatter received on the 28th of March, 2013.

“This was in the context of a briefing with the minister. I believe that on the occasion in question we spoke by telephone.

“During the course of the conversation minister Shatter specifically asked me if there was anything in the background relating to Sgt McCabe that he should be aware of.

“In response I told him that there had been an allegation of inappropriate contact by Sgt McCabe with a child in 2006.

“I made it clear to him that the matter had been investigated and that a file had been sent to the DPP who had directed no prosecution.”

Identity

At the time of the claimed conversation, in late 2013, Sgt McCabe’s identity had not been revealed publicly.

However, the allegations he was making as an anonymous Garda whistleblower, especially around the cancellation of penalty points, had become a significant problem for the government and Garda headquarters.

The handling of a wide range of allegations he made, some of them since substantiated and others not upheld, ultimately led to Mr Shatter’s resignation. Mr Callinan retired suddenly and with no notice in March 2014.

As well as Mr Callinan telling the tribunal he informed Mr Shatter of the 2006 allegation made against by Sgt McCabe, a number of other witnesses have told the tribunal Mr Callinan spoke negatively of Sgt McCabe to them.

Former chair of the Public Accounts Committee Fianna Fáil TD John McGuinness said that during a meeting in a car park with Mr Callinan, on January 24th, 2014, they discussed rumours about Sgt McCabe.

At the time, the committee was investigating allegations by the sergeant about abuse of the penalty points system and was preparing to call Sgt McCabe as a witness, which Mr Callinan objected to.

Mr McGuinness said the then commissioner told him Sgt McCabe had sexually abused “family members” and that an investigation was under way.

The tribunal has heard that an allegation of sexual abuse against Sgt McCabe, made in 2006 and not involving a family member, was dismissed by the Director of Public Prosecutions in 2007.

Rumours

Mr Callinan has disputed the account of the conversation given by Mr McGuinness. He has said Mr McGuinness already knew of the rumours by the time they spoke.

Mr Callinan has also rejected the suggestion he ever said the sergeant had sexually abused a family member, could not be trusted, or that the word “paedophile” had been used during the conversation.

Comptroller and Auditor General Séamus McCarthy told the tribunal he met the then commissioner in a lobby in Leinster House prior to a meeting of the PAC in January 2014.

There, according to Mr McCarthy, Mr Callinan made comments to the effect that Sgt McCabe was not to be trusted and that there were allegations of sexual offences against him.

Mr Callinan has told the tribunal that he denies this account.

RTÉ journalist Philip Boucher-Hayes has told the tribunal that, during a conversation in RTÉ in December 2013, the then commissioner had spoken at length about Sgt McCabe, said he was a “troubled individual” with psychiatric issues, and was not to be trusted.