Callinan told TD that whistleblower McCabe ‘fiddles with kids’
Former PAC chairman John McGuinness tells Charleton of Callinan allegations about whistleblower ‘headbangers’
John McGuinness TD at the Disclosures Tribunal in Dublin Castle on Monday. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins
The tribunal is examining allegations that senior gardaí were smearing the whistleblower to politicians, journalists and others.
Former committee chairman John McGuinness TD said that after the Oireachtas committee hearing into penalty points abuses on January 23rd, 2014, Mr Callinan told him a story about an incident with a horseback rider on Grafton Street in Dublin.
He said the then commissioner told him how former garda John Wilson “pulled the knacker off the horse” then rode it to a Garda barracks.
Mr McGuinness said he continued by saying: “And the other fella fiddles with kids. They’re the kinds of f**king headbangers I’m dealing with.”
Mr McGuinness said he listened to what the commissioner had to say, and left without making any comment. “I believed that the story was being recounted for my benefit,” he said.
Tribunal barrister Pat Marrinan SC put it to the witness that Mr Callinan denied the conversation had happened. “I just took the bible in my hand, and my account of what was said is true,” Mr McGuinness replied.
Michael L O’Higgins, representing former Garda press officer Supt John Taylor, told the tribunal his client, who was standing nearby at the time, also recalled Mr Callinan calling Sgt McCabe a paedophile.
Mr McGuinness said before PAC hearings into the penalty points issue, he met Sgt McCabe and received boxes of evidence from him.
Mr McGuinness said there was “quite an amount of rumour about Maurice McCabe to the effect that he would not be trusted”. There were rumours in Leinster House that Sgt McCabe “was involved in sexual abuse and that he was a paedophile”.
Mr McGuinness said he ignored the rumours, as his role was to examine the penalty points issue. “There was a deliberate attempt being made to insist that he was not a credible individual that should be listened to,” Mr McGuinness said.
He said he asked Sgt McCabe directly about the rumours, and was assured they were not true. He found Sgt McCabe to be an honest individual determined to do the right thing, and “extremely proud” of the uniform he wore.
“I think he was extremely upset and disappointed. He was setting out to do the right thing and these rumours were deliberate efforts being made by forces to ensure that his character would be damaged,” Mr McGuinness said.
Asked about Mr Callinan’s comments at the committee hearing that whistleblowers were “disgusting”, Mr McGuinness said: “I’m taking from it that he’s referring to the manner in which they were going about their business as disgusting.”
The day after Mr Callinan gave evidence to the committee, Mr McGuinness said he received a message that the commissioner would like to meet him. Mr McGuinness said he presumed it was about the work of the committee.
They arranged to meet in the Bewley’s Hotel at Newlands Cross, which was on Mr McGuinness’s way home. “When you get a call from the Garda Commissioner, you’re not inclined to say no.”
He said he expected to meet in the hotel, but when he arrived in the car park, Mr Callinan approached the passenger side of his car and got in.
The TD said Mr Callinan told him there was evidence Sgt McCabe had sexually abused his family and was not to be trusted.
He also said he was told there was a file and action would be taken against Sgt McCabe.
Mr McGuinness said he was deeply worried by what he was told and spent the weekend thinking about it.
“The conclusion I arrived at was whatever sexual abuse was there to be accounted for, the Guards would obviously deal with it,” Mr McGuinness said. He said the committee had the evidence provided by Sgt McCabe, and would concentrate on the evidence. He said he believed Sgt McCabe.
He said he did not share what he was told with other members of the committee because this would be repeating gossip. He did later inform Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin of the meeting with the commissioner.
“I had to made a judgment call, and I’m glad I did, that I ignored the information from Commissioner Callinan,” Mr McGuinness said.
The tribunal said Mr Callinan, in a statement, insisted Mr McGuinness was already aware of the allegations against Sgt McCabe when they met and that Mr McGuinness had raised the issues first.