‘Examiner’ journalist rejects garda’s ‘smear campaign’ claim

Juno McEnroe is the latest journalist to contradict evidence by Supt Dave Taylor

Another journalist has given evidence to the Charleton Tribunal that conflicts with that heard from the former head of the Garda Press Office, Supt Dave Taylor.

Supt Taylor has told the tribunal that he briefed Irish Examiner political correspondent Juno McEnroe as part of an alleged smear campaign against Sgt Maurice McCabe.

Supt Taylor has said he was told to brief journalists that Sgt McCabe was motivated by revenge in making whistleblowing disclosures and he was to mention the fact that Sgt McCabe had been the subject of a child sex abuse allegation in 2006 that was dismissed by the Director of Public Prosecutions.

However, Mr McEnroe said that he never heard of the 2006 allegation until after Supt Taylor had been moved from the Garda Press Office and that it may have been as late as 2016 or 2017 before he heard of the allegation.


He said it may have been mentioned to him in January 2014, when Sgt McCabe was coming to Leinster House to give evidence to the Dáil Public Accounts Committee, that Sgt McCabe was not “trustworthy” but that it was not expanded on in any way and the comment did not question Sgt McCabe’s motivation in whistleblowing.

He said the comment that was made to him at the time was by way of “gossip” or “prattle”. He said he could not recall who may have “planted this question mark” in his mind.

He added he did not want, for reasons of journalistic privilege, to answer any specific questions about what Supt Taylor may or may not have said to him.

Mr McEnroe is one of eleven journalists with whom Supt Taylor has said he spoke as part of the alleged smear campaign. No journalist has confirmed Supt Taylor’s claim and a number have directly rejected the claim.

Irish Examiner crime correspondent Cormac O'Keeffe, who is another of the journalists named by Supt Taylor, said he did not want to answer any questions about what he might or might not have been told by sources or which might serve to identify a source.

Mr Justice Peter Charleton said he was going to take it from what Mr O'Keeffe had told the tribunal that it was not conceivable that former commissioners Martin Callinan or Nóirín O'Sullivan were in communication with the witness in relation to a smear campaign.

A number of the journalists named by Supt Taylor have now directly or indirectly rejected his claim. No journalist has as yet supported his claim.

The former group news editor with Independent News & Media (INM), Ian Mallon, said it was not the case, as had been stated in evidence by Anne Harris, former editor of the Sunday Independent, that he had once said to her: "You know about McCabe and children".

He also said it was not the case, as stated by Ms Harris, that there had been mutterings in INM during 2014 about Sgt McCabe. He said it was widely known in INM since April 2014 that there had once been a sex abuse allegation made against Sgt McCabe and that this was talked about openly. He said he never heard anyone using the word “paedophile” in relation to Sgt McCabe.

He also said Ms Harris had made claims about him in her original statements to the tribunal which she had then withdrawn.

Mr Justice Charleton said he was beginning to wonder if journalists get on with each other at all. Mr Mallon continues his evidence on Wednesday.

Colm Keena

Colm Keena

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