Gsoc drops inquiry on conspiracy to damage McCabe’s reputation

Allegations created a media and political frenzy when they were first reported

Sgt Maurice McCabe, after giving evidence at the Disclosures Tribunal, with  with his wife, Lorraine, at Dublin Castle. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

Sgt Maurice McCabe, after giving evidence at the Disclosures Tribunal, with with his wife, Lorraine, at Dublin Castle. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

 

The Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (Gsoc) has discontinued an inquiry into claims that two Garda members had conspired to damage the reputation of whistleblower Maurice McCabe.

It was claimed in media reports and in the Dáil in 2016 that two members of the force had been planning to give evidence to the O’Higgins Commission stating Mr McCabe had told them he had made some of his whistleblower complaints because of “malice”.

The claims have since been dismissed by the Disclosures Tribunal, in a report by its then chairman Mr Justice Peter Charleton.

The media reports, first in The Irish Examiner and then on RTÉ, stated the false evidence was effectively stopped in its tracks when Mr McCabe was able to produce a tape recording he had secretly made of his meeting with the two Garda members.

Irish Examiner journalist Michael Clifford reported the evidence the two Garda members were about to give “was blown out of the water when Mr McCabe produced a transcript of the meeting in question”.

Now Gsoc, which had been investigating the highly contentious allegations since 2016, has discontinued its investigation into the claims.

“Gsoc inquiries into the allegations have been discontinued and parties concerned have been notified,” it said in reply to queries from The Irish Times.

The Garda watchdog did not outline the reasons the inquiry had been discontinued.

However, informed sources said because the allegations had already been dismissed by the Disclosures Tribunal, there was no reason to pursue a Gsoc inquiry into them.

The allegations created a media and political frenzy when they were first reported because they alleged a plot based on lies and perjury to bring down Sgt McCabe at the behind-closed doors O’Higgins Commission hearings in 2015.

In the media reports in 2016 the two Garda members who were accused of being about to tell lies about Mr McCabe at the O’Higgins Commission a year earlier were not named.

However, Independent TD Mick Wallace used Dáil privilege to name Sgt Yvonne Martin and Supt Noel Cunningham as the two members involved in the alleged attempted conspiracy. The claims have since been dismissed by the Disclosures Tribunal.

Conduct

The controversy relates to a conversation that took place at Mullingar Garda station in August, 2008. Mr McCabe, who was then a Garda sergeant, had begun making complaints about the conduct of some gardaí and what he regarded as poor police work.

Supt Cunningham was asked by his senior officers to meet Sgt McCabe to discuss his grievances. They met at Mullingar station. Sgt Martin was also present at the meeting as a witness.

Despite the reports to the contrary, she was never due to give any evidence to the commission.

Supt Cunningham did give evidence to the commission in 2015. The evidence he gave to the commission and his report in 2008 were consistent with Mr McCabe’s secret recording of the 2008 meeting.

However, before he gave his evidence, a summary of what he, and others, would say at the commission was drawn up by the chief State solicitor’s office and distributed to parties at the commission.

The section summarising what Supt Cunningham planned to tell the commission was incorrect.

The error in the chief State solicitor’s version was identified and clarified at the commission and Mr Cunningham gave his evidence.

As well as his evidence coinciding with the contents of Mr McCabe’s recording, the testimony was also the same as a report Supt Cunningham had compiled for Garda management about the 2008 meeting shortly after it had taken place.