Corruption allegations against gardaí concerned O’Sullivan, tribunal hears

Chief Superintendent Fergus Healy continuing to give evidence to Charleton Tribunal

Chief Supt Fergus Healy at the Disclosures Tribunal in Dublin Castle. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Chief Supt Fergus Healy at the Disclosures Tribunal in Dublin Castle. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

 

The Charleton tribunal has been told allegations of corruption against senior Garda officers at the O’Higgins Commission, which reported in April 2016, were the main concern of the then commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan.

The tribunal has been told that a week after the commission had started hearing evidence in private in May 2015, Ms O’Sullivan met the barrister leading her legal team for the first time for tea and a 15- or 20-minute meeting in her office.

The tribunal is investigating whether inappropriate matters were used by Ms O’Sullivan’s legal team in an unfair effort to discredit Garda whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe at the commission hearings.

Chief Supt Fergus Healy, who was the then commissioner’s liaison at the commission hearings, told tribunal barrister Kathleen Leader on Friday about the meeting he arranged between Ms O’Sullivan and Colm Smyth SC, who was leading the legal team representing Ms O’Sullivan and senior Garda officers.

The meeting was on the evening of May 21st, 2015, in the wake of a row at the commission hearings on May 15th over the issue of whether Ms O’Sullivan’s legal team were going to attack the motivation of Sgt McCabe in making his complaints.

Chief Supt Healy said he attended the meeting along with Ms O’Sullivan and Mr Smyth.

“It was a meet-and-greet type meeting,” he said. “Mr Smyth introduced himself to the commissioner and they had tea and exchanged niceties.”

Progressing

They also discussed how matters were progressing at the commission, he said. The row over attacking Sgt McCabe’s motivation was not discussed in detail, he said.

“The allegations of corruption were the main focus for the commissioner.”

The commission was investigating complaints Sgt McCabe had made about standards of policing in Cavan/Monaghan but also serious allegations including allegations of corruption against senior officers including Ms O’Sullivan’s predecessor as commissioner Martin Callinan.

“The allegations of corruption were a very serious concern for her,” Chief Supt Healy said. Mr Smyth shared this view and felt that the allegations “wouldn’t stick”.

Ms O’Sullivan was concerned for the Garda organisation, should the corruption allegations be supported in the commission’s final report.

“That would be a serious matter and the commissioner had real concerns about that,” the witness said.

The commission found the complaints of corruption were unfounded. It said there was “not a scintilla of evidence to support an allegation of any type of corruption against the former commissioner”, Mr Callinan.

The allegations of corruption were in the sense of being contrary to the Garda code, rather than in the usual criminal sense of the word.

Chief Supt Healy is expected to finish his evidence early on Monday and to be followed then by Ms O’Sullivan.