Garda Commissioner ‘should clarify any efforts to discredit Sgt McCabe’
John McGuinness says Martin Callinan warned him McCabe ‘was not to be trusted’
John McGuinness TD told the Dáil that former Garda commissioner met him in the Bewley’s Hotel car park, Naas Road, Dublin, in 2014 to warn him about Sgt Maurice McCabe.
Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan should clarify any efforts that were made to discredit Garda whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe, according to John McGuinness TD (FF).
He has claimed when he was the chair of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) the then Garda commissioner Martin Callinan warned him Sgt McCabe “was not to be trusted and there were serious issues about him”.
Mr Callinan at the time in January 2014, had at a PAC hearing contentiously described as “disgusting” Sgt McCabe’s actions.
The committee was considering inviting Sgt McCabe before it to give his evidence.
That move was opposed by Mr Callinan and it is now alleged that part of that opposition led to the then Garda commissioner requesting a meeting with Mr McGuinness, who has now set out his account of the meeting.
“The Garda commissioner [Martin Callinan] confided in me in a car park on the Naas Road that Garda McCabe was not to be trusted and there were serious issues about him,” he told the Dáil on Thursday in remarks that have not been reported until this weekend.
“The vile stories that circulated about Garda McCabe, which were promoted by senior officers in the Garda, were absolutely appalling,” he said.
Mr McGuinness was speaking during the debate on the O’Higgins commission of investigation, which investigated Sgt McCabe’s allegations of Garda wrongdoing in the Cavan-Monaghan division and other matters.
He continued in the Dáil: “Every effort was made by those within the Garda Síochána at senior level to discredit Garda Maurice McCabe.
“Because they attempted to discredit him, he had to bring forward various pieces of strong evidence to protect his integrity.
“During the course of that time, we have to recognise that the political establishment was of absolutely no help to him.
“Every effort was made to ensure he would not appear before the Committee of Public Accounts.
“Every effort was made to dampen down the strong evidence he put into the public domain, which he had to do to protect himself, to inform us about what was going on with penalty points and other issues.”
Speaking on RTÉ Radio One’s This Week programme on Sunday, Mr McGuinness said a statement was now required from Ms O’Sullivan on what was known within the Garda of any efforts made by senior officers at the time to discredit Sgt McCabe.
“My question really is, for those who were putting up these obstacles; how many in the police force at that level knew,” Mr McGuinness said.
“Who knew within the police force what was going on? What efforts did they make to prevent Maurice McCabe from coming forward?
“These are legitimate questions now in light of the fact that everyone is suggesting that Maurice McCabe is right and vindicated and we need to clarify the further points.
He added a statement should be made by Ms O’Sullivan on what he said were “the efforts made by the Garda Síochána to discredit Maurice McCabe”.
“She should make a full statement on what was known at that time about the efforts that were made and who was involved,” he said.
Mr McGuinness told the Dáil on Thursday that the meeting in the Bewley’s Hotel car park, Naas Road, Dublin took place after Mr Callinan contacted him and asked to meet but did not state in advance the purpose of the meeting, in January 2014.
Mr McGuinness said he had taken no notes during or after the meeting with Mr Callinan which lasted about 30 minutes but said he could clearly recall it and the details around it, including when it occurred and where.
Asked whether Fianna Fáil was taking a credible position by having faith in Sgt McCabe and having confidence in Ms O’Sullivan, Mr McGuinness replied: “I can’t express confidence [in the Garda Commissioner] because the jury is out on that.”
He said an internal Garda report in 2011 following an inquiry into Sgt McCabe’s initial complaints in the Cavan-Monaghan division gave policing there a clean bill of health.
However, the O’Higgins commission had contradicted that; the conclusions of O’Higgins were “completely and utterly different”.
“Until such time as all of the current issues are clarified, I believe that no one can express confidence in the commissioner.”