Official claims he was told Garda set out to ‘go after’ McCabe

Force’s HR head says comment went against ‘cornucopia’ of measures to address concerns

The head of human resources at Garda HQ John Barrett told the tribunal  the comment about Garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe (pictured) was made to him by his immediate superior. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins.

The head of human resources at Garda HQ John Barrett told the tribunal the comment about Garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe (pictured) was made to him by his immediate superior. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins.

 

The head of human resources at Garda headquarters has said he was told in May 2015 the Garda were going to “go after” Sgt Maurice McCabe at the O’Higgins commission, the Charleton tribunal has been told.

John Barrett told the tribunal the comment was made to him by his immediate superior, the then chief administrative officer Cyril Dunne.

Mr Dunne, who has yet to give evidence, has told the tribunal in a statement that he did not make the alleged comment.

Mr Barrett said he believed the comment was made on May 13th, 2015, at the “tail end” of a meeting in Mr Dunne’s office attended by both men and the then Garda commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan, and after he had been asked by Mr Dunne to stay back at the end of the meeting.

“I turned to him and said, you must be joking,” Mr Barrett told Diarmuid McGuinness SC, for the tribunal. He said he might have included an expletive.

Mr Barrett said that at the time he was involved with a “cornucopia” of measures designed to address workplace problems Sgt McCabe was having.

He said he found the comment “shocking” as it jarred with the “cottage industry of activity” he was involved with in trying to provide workplace support to Sgt McCabe.

Mr McGuinness said Mr Dunne had told the tribunal he never made the alleged comment and was not involved with the O’Higgins commission.

Did not make a note

Mr Barrett said he did not make a note of the comment or discuss the comment with anyone at the time but did in the “weeks and months” afterwards.

“If I had it all over again I would make a very detailed and contemporaneous note of what at the time just seemed odd in relation to the work we had put in since February,” he said.

“At the time it didn’t have the significance it had a week or 10 days later.”

He said that it would be the executive of the organisation that would make “a decision of that order, something as serious as that”.

He said that “in the last number of days” Chief Supt Tony McLoughlin had come to him and mentioned that he, the witness, had previously mentioned the comment to him.

In its current module, the tribunal is examining whether unjustified grounds were inappropriately relied upon by Ms O’Sullivan to discredit Sgt McCabe at the O’Higgins commission.

The commission, which sat in private in 2015, investigated complaints made by Sgt McCabe about certain policing matters and about serious allegations against senior officers including then Garda commissioner, Martin Callinan.

The private hearings of the O’Higgins commission began on May 14th, 2015, and the tribunal has heard that on the previous evening, Ms O’Sullivan was contacted and told her legal team wanted to challenge the credibility of Sgt McCabe. She gave the lawyers the authority to do so.

Mr Barrett is to continue his evidence on Friday.