O’Higgins commission never made contact, says garda
Sgt Yvonne Martin accused over McCabe smear says investigation did not contact her
Sgt Maurice McCabe at Dublin Castle. Photograph: Cyril Byrne
One of two Garda members accused of being about to “perjure” themselves in order to “bury” Sgt Maurice McCabe at the O’Higgins commission has insisted she was never contacted by the commission.
Independent TD Mick Wallace used Dáil privilege in 2016 to claim Sgt Yvonne Martin and Supt Noel Cunningham had planned to tell the commission Sgt McCabe had told them he had lodged a complaint against a senior officer which was motivated by a sense of grievance or grudge.
It was alleged their plan was foiled when Sgt McCabe produced his own secret tape recording of the meeting.
Sgt Martin has outlined her position in a statement to the Charleton tribunal, which is investigating whether a smear campaign was run against Sgt McCabe,
She said she was contacted by a senior Garda officer acting as a liaison officer between the Garda and the O’Higgins commission in 2015.
Sgt Martin said in her statement she was told she may need to give evidence to the commission about a meeting in Mullingar in 2008 between Sgt McCabe, who was based in Bailieboro, Co Cavan, and Supt Cunningham which she attended as a witness. However, she has now said the matter went no further.
“I never attended at the [O’Higgins] Commission of Investigation,” she told the Charleton tribunal in a statement. “Nor have I ever, to this day, been contacted by the garda commissioner, [former commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan], her legal team, Gsoc [Garda Síochána Ombudsman], the media, to clarify my involvement in or recollection of the above meeting.
“Further, I was never stationed in Bailieboro Garda station nor did I have any dealings with any of the members attached to it.”
In response to queries from The Irish Times, Gsoc said it did not wish to trespass on matters currently before the Charleton tribunal and had no comment at this time.
Efforts to contact Sgt Martin through her solicitors were not successful on Wednesday.
When the O’Higgins commission report was published in May 2016, there was no mention of any evidence having been heard about the contentious meeting between Sgt McCabe and the two gardaí.
However, reports in the Irish Examiner suggested two unnamed Garda witnesses were about to tell the commission that Sgt McCabe had informed them at the 2008 meeting his complaint against a senior officer was motivated by a grudge.
Mr Wallace later used Dáil privilege to name Sgt Martin and Supt Cunningham.
“[Two] gardaí were planning to perjure themselves or provide false evidence to impugn Sgt McCabe’s motives until a recording was produced,” he said under Dáil privilege on May 25th, 2016. “Sgt Maurice McCabe would be buried by now if he had not taped the conversation.”
The Charleton tribunal later found the allegations set out in the Dáil against Supt Cunningham and Sgt Martin were not true. It said an inaccurate summary of the evidence Supt Cunningham intended to give at the O’Higgins commission in 2015 had been furnished by the chief state solicitor’s office to other parties.
Earlier this month, Kathleen Leader, for the Charleton tribunal, told the tribunal an “error” had been made in ascribing to Supt Cunningham a view about Sgt McCabe.
Last Friday at the tribunal Michael McDowell SC, for Sgt McCabe, said Supt Cunningham had been shown the chief state solicitor’s summary of the evidence he would give to the O’Higgins commission and he had signed it.
Mr Justice Peter Charleton told Mr McDowell that Supt Cunningham could be asked about the matter if called to give evidence.
Both Supt Cunningham and Sgt Martin have initiated defamation proceedings against several media outlets over their reporting of the initial allegations.