Charleton Tribunal: Only three of 12 ex-Garda commissioners’ phones recovered

None of three mobile phones sought from former head of Garda Press Office recovered

Former Garda commissioners and Martin Callinan (centre) and Noirín O’ Sullivan pictured in 2013. File photograph: Collins

Only three of 12 mobile phones sought from former Garda commissioners Martin Callinan and Noirín O'Sullivan have been recovered, the Charleton Tribunal has heard.

Of the three mobile phones sought from the former head of the Garda Press Office Supt Dave Taylor, none have been recovered.

Two of six were recovered from Mr Callinan and one of six from Ms O’Sullivan. The tribunal is inquiring into an allegation that a smear campaign was orchestrated against the Garda whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe, on the instructions of senior management.

Sgt McCabe has given evidence to the tribunal that he was told by Supt Taylor of a smear campaign involving “hundreds” of text messages to journalists and others.


He said he was told that Supt Taylor did this on the instructions of Mr Callinan and that Ms O’Sullivan knew what was going on.

The two former commissioners have denied any involvement in a smear campaign against Sgt McCabe.

However, John Ferry BL for Supt Taylor, told the tribunal on Friday that his client’s position was that the text messages concerning Sgt McCabe that he sent to Mr Callinan and Ms O’Sullivan during his time at the Garda Press Office, were to do with updates about contacts with the media or the publication of reports about Sgt McCabe.

They were not to do with any smear campaign, he said.

Phone policy

Mr Callinan is expected to give evidence later this month. Supt Michael Flynn of the Garda telecoms section told Diarmuid McGuinness SC, for the tribunal, about inquires made by his office about the phones used by Mr Callinan, Ms O’Sullivan and Supt Taylor.

He said that although billing records were available for their phones for the years of concern to the tribunal, the content of any text messages exchanged would only be available from the actual devices.

He said it was not policy that officers had to return their old phones when being issued with new ones. One of the tribunal’s terms of reference requires it to examine the telecommunications records of contacts between Supt Taylor and former commissioners Callinan and O’Sullivan, for the period July 2012 to May 2014, concerning any smear campaign.

Responding to Mr Justice Peter Charleton - the tribunal's chairman, Mr Ferry said Supt Taylor was not alleging that there had been any interference with his telephone devices by the Garda telecommunications unit.

He said his client was concerned about a WhatsApp invitation that appeared on his phone at one stage, which alarmed him. That was the only issue his client had, Mr Ferry said.

The tribunal has adjourned until Tuesday.

Colm Keena

Colm Keena

Colm Keena is an Irish Times journalist. He was previously legal-affairs correspondent and public-affairs correspondent