FF TD John McGuinness to give evidence at Charleton Tribunal

McGuinness: Ex-Garda chief Martin Callinan told him McCabe not to be trusted

Fianna Fáil TD John McGuinness takes the stand at the Charleton Tribunal on Monday. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Fianna Fáil TD John McGuinness is expected to give evidence on Monday at the Charleton Tribunal that he was told by the then Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan that Sgt Maurice McCabe was a suspected child abuser.

It is already known the former chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has told the tribunal in a statement that during a meeting in a car park with Mr Callinan, on January 24th, 2014, they discussed rumours about Sgt McCabe.

At the time, the committee was investigating allegations by the sergeant about abuse of the penalty points system.

According to Mr McGuinness, the then commissioner said the rumours about Sgt McCabe were true - Mr Callinan said Sgt McCabe had sexually abused “family members” and an investigation was under way.


The tribunal has heard an allegation of sex abuse against Sgt McCabe, made in 2006 and not involving a family member, was comprehensively dismissed by the DPP in 2007.

Mr Callinan has told the tribunal, in a statement, that he did have a meeting with Mr McGuinness but that it was obvious the politician knew an allegation had been made about Sgt McCabe and a decision made not to proceed with charges.

He rejected the claim by Mr McGuinness that he (Mr Callinan) had said that the sergeant had sexually abused a family member, could not be trusted, or that the word “paedophile” had been used during the conversation.

The tribunal, which is examining a number of matters most of which are linked to allegations of a smear campaign against Sgt McCabe, resumes hearing evidence on Monday after a break of almost a month. The last witness heard, in early March, was Sgt McCabe.

On Tuesday, the Comptroller and Auditor General, Séamus McCarthy, is to give evidence about a conversation he said he had with Mr Callinan at the time Sgt McCabe was appearing before the Dáil committee.

Mr McCarthy has told the tribunal in a statement that he met the then commissioner in a lobby in Leinster House prior to a meeting of the committee in January 2014.

There, Mr Callinan referred to Sgt McCabe and made comments to the effect that he was not to be trusted and that there were allegations of sexual offences against him, according to Mr McCarthy.

RTÉ journalist Philip Boucher-Hayes has also told the tribunal that Mr Callinan spoke negatively about Sgt McCabe.

Mr Callinan, in his statement to the tribunal, has said he rejects the claims made by all three. He has told the tribunal he denies introducing references to any allegations of sexual offences against Sgt McCabe into his conversation with Mr McCarthy.

The witnesses scheduled to give evidence over the coming two weeks include Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Eoghan Murphy, leader of Fianna Fáil, Micheál Martin, former Labour Party leader Pat Rabbitte, former Secretary General of the Department of Justice and Equality, Brian Purcell, senior Garda officers, and public officials.

Mr Callinan is not scheduled to give evidence over the coming two weeks and it is not known when he will give evidence.

The sittings to begin on Monday will concentrate on one of the tribunal’s terms of reference, which requires it to “investigate whether a meeting took place between former Commissioner Callinan and Deputy John McGuinness on the 24th of January, 2014 in the carpark of Bewley’s Hotel, Newlands Cross, Co. Dublin and to examine and consider the circumstances which led to any such meeting, the purpose of such meeting and matters discussed at such meeting.”

During his evidence in March, Sgt McCabe became emotional when telling of meeting Mr McGuinness and being told of the meeting in the car park. He said Mr McGuinness had told him that Mr Callinan had said he, Sgt McCabe, had abused his own children and his nieces and was not to be trusted.

Colm Keena

Colm Keena

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