Garda whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe was the subject of “hostility and enmity” within the gardaí, the Charleton tribunal has heard.
Sgt McCabe’s barrister Michael McDowell said that while evidence had been given that Garda witnesses never discussed Sgt McCabe, he was the subject of “a good deal of hostility and enmity from certain sources in the Cavan-Monaghan division”.
The tribunal was also told Sgt McCabe was bullied, and called a “rat” on social media, Mr McDowell said.
Retired chief superintendent James Sheridan said he had never undermined Sgt McCabe in any way but he did know that Sgt McCabe was being bullied.
Mr McDowell said the tribunal had been given a picture by some witnesses that there was no animus whatsoever towards Sgt McCabe, and he was dealt with the same as any other guard. He said he was trying to establish that this was not the case.
Mr Sheridan said a HSE notification containing incorrect allegations of sexual abuse against Sgt McCabe was “a disastrous error”, but he said it was caused by the HSE and was not the fault of the gardaí.
"In my view it would be grossly unfair to hold the Garda Síochána responsible for the catastrophe that was perpetrated by the HSE," Mr Sheridan said.
‘Conspiracy to sully’
Mr Sheridan said he never spoke to Ms D or to her father, Mr D, a garda officer, about the allegation Ms D had made in 2006, on which the DPP directed no prosecution.
Questioned by Micheál P O'Higgins on behalf of the Garda Commissioner, Mr Sheridan said that Garda press officer Supt David Taylor played no role in the manner in which he dealt with notifications from the HSE and Tusla.
“Were you party to any conspiracy to sully or besmirch the reputation of Sgt Maurice McCabe?” Mr O’Higgins asked.
“Absolutely not,” Mr Sheridan said. To his knowledge nobody in senior Garda management was party to any such conspiracy, he said.
In other evidence the former senior garda denied that tasks were not followed up on after a high-level meeting in order to keep allegations about Sgt McCabe alive.
Mr Sheridan attended a meeting in July 2014 along with Bailieboro superintendent Leo McGinn and assistant commissioner Kieran Kenny to discuss HSE notifications relating to Sgt McCabe.
The tribunal is looking into allegations of a smear campaign against the Garda whistleblower.
Following a 2006 complaint from Ms D against Sgt McCabe the DPP had directed that no prosecution be made as there was no evidence of an offence. A notification sent to gardaí in 2014 after Ms D sought counselling erroneously contained serious allegations from an unrelated case.
Mr Kenny told the meeting it was “unbelievable” the HSE had made “a copy and paste error”, and that it was important they deal with the issue “given the people involved.”
Mr Sheridan said this referred to Sgt McCabe, and to the fact Ms D had met Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin about her case.
At the meeting a decision was made to seek legal advice and to contact the HSE for a further explanation of how the error had occurred.
The tribunal heard, however, that neither decision was acted on.
“I suggest this was done on purpose to keep the allegation alive,” Kathleen Leader BL, for the tribunal, said to Mr Sheridan.
“Certainly not, absolutely not,” Mr Sheridan said.
Mr Sheridan said that as far as he was concerned, gardaí had concluded their inquiries into the erroneous report, the original 2007 allegation had been investigated fully and it was no longer a Garda matter.
The tribunal continues on Monday.