Charleton chairman grants representation in Garda inquiry

Concerns raised about two key figures being represented by the same legal team

The Charleton Tribunal, which is investigating an alleged smear campaign against garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe, has granted legal representation to a number of parties.

Mr Justice Peter Charleton, in his ruling, said it may be necessary in time to return to the issue of the representation of Garda Commissioner Noirín O’Sullivan, and her predecessor Martin Callinan.

Conor Dignam SC is representing both Ms O’Sullivan and Mr Callinan, as well as An Garda Síochána.

Michael McDowell SC, for Sergeant McCabe, has expressed reservations about this.

John Ferry BL, for Garda whistleblower Supt David Taylor, has also expressed concerns about the fact that two key figures in the inquiry, and the force overall, are being represented by the same legal team.

Mr Justice Charleton said it may prove necessary to consider if the tribunal could, or should, decide if it had the power to interfere in an applicant’s choice of legal team at the instance of another party.

“The tribunal has reached no conclusion on his and may if it thinks necessary take appropriate steps to seek the views of relevant parties.”

Limited representation

Former minister for justice Alan Shatter has been granted limited representation as have garda whistleblower Keith Harrison, Detective Sergeant Yvonne Martin, Sergeant Brigid McGowan, Inspector Goretti Sheridan and Detective Sergeant David Durkin.

RTÉ, which is mentioned in the terms of reference, has also been granted representation as has the HSE and Tusla, the Child and Family Agency.

Fianna Fáil TD John McGuinness has been granted representation in relation to one term of reference, which concerns what was discussed during an alleged meeting in a hotel carpark between him and Mr Callinan in 2014.

Michael Kealey, solicitor for Associated Newspapers, publishers of the Irish Daily Mail, was told the tribunal was neither granting nor refusing representation in relation to the issue of journalist's privilege "until such time as the tribunal has further clarified matters in relation to the factual background".

During the application hearing last week the chairman expressed the view that he should be told if journalists had information relevant to the tribunal, before ruling on legal representation.

However, counsel for the number of media organisations said they were concerned about doing this prior to further clarification on the issue of journalistic privilege. The Irish Times and Independent News & Media did not press the matter of representation following the chairman's discussion with Mr Kealey.