Press office chief ‘wasn’t on Maurice McCabe’s side’, tribunal told

Sgt Jim Molloy says Supt David Taylor had a ‘tendency to gossip and chitchat in the office’

Supt David Taylor  speaking to the media at the scene of a multiple shooting in which four people were injured, at Hanlon’s Corner, in north Dublin city in 2013. File photograph: The Irish Times

Supt David Taylor speaking to the media at the scene of a multiple shooting in which four people were injured, at Hanlon’s Corner, in north Dublin city in 2013. File photograph: The Irish Times

 

Former garda press officer Supt David Taylor was not complimentary about whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe or journalists who wrote about him, the Charleton tribunal has heard.

The tribunal is looking at claims by Supt Taylor that he was directed by former garda commissioner Martin Callinan to brief the media negatively on Sgt McCabe. Mr Callinan denies this.

Sgt James Molloy, who works in the garda press office, said he would hear people discussing Sgt McCabe in the press office, though he could not recall who said what. He said that Supt Taylor was uncomplimentary about Sgt McCabe.

“Put it this way. I was clear if there was a side to be taken which side David Taylor was on, and it wasn’t on McCabe’s side,” Sgt Molloy said.

Sgt Molloy said that Supt Taylor “would be uncomplimentary of Maurice McCabe. It would be uncomplimentary of any journalist who was writing about Maurice McCabe, any member of the Oireachtas who took his side.”

Sgt Molloy said he was “vaguely aware” of a rumour of a sexual assault investigation, and that Sgt McCabe felt this should not be on the Pulse System.

He could not say when he became aware of this case. The Director of Public Prosecutions had recommended no prosecution as there was no evidence of a crime following the 2006 investigation.

Speaking out

Asked by tribunal barrister Patrick Marrinan SC if Supt Taylor was uncomplimentary towards Sgt McCabe because of the assault allegations or because he was speaking out on garda issues, Sgt Molloy said it was because Sgt McCabe was speaking out.

Sgt Molloy said he was not aware of a smear campaign against Sgt McCabe, and was never told to smear anybody.

Mr Marrinan said that Sgt Molloy was the only one of 13 staff members in the press office, so far, to say he had heard about Sgt McCabe during his work.

Sgt Molloy said that Supt Taylor had “a tendency to gossip and chitchat in the office after an incident”.

“I thought it was dangerous to be saying that in the press office, because that would bleed into the media,” Sgt Molloy said. “People shouldn’t be reading about injuries to victims, the gruesome nature of crimes, in the media, or at least, we shouldn’t be providing it.”

He said that Supt Taylor did a lot of media briefings and “pieces to camera” during his time as press officer.

“There is always the danger in the press office of loving it, getting a buzz from it. I thought he had fallen into that trap,” Sgt Molloy said.

Computer hardware

Supt Pat Ryan, the head of the Garda IT section, told the tribunal that he had been asked last year to identify all computer hardware used by former commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan from July 1st, 2012 to May 31st, 2014.

He said that garda computers were upgraded from Windows XP to Windows 7 at the end of 2014, and as part of this process, a File Share system was set up, and data was held on the File Share system.

Emails sent on garda accounts were archived, and even if an email was deleted from a local computer, it would not be deleted in the archive. Log-in details from computers were still available in audit logs, the tribunal was told.

Supt Ryan said that five laptop computers had been assigned to Ms O’Sullivan between 2006 and 2010, and these could no longer be recovered. A hard drive from an office desktop computer had been located.

No laptop was assigned to Ms O’Sullivan during her time as commissioner. Two iPads used by the commissioner had been located, although one had a fault. Four out of six laptops used by Mr Callinan could not be located, and one machine had been rebuilt and redeployed. Mr Callinan purchased the laptop he was using at the time of his retirement, which was reset to factory settings to remove garda data before he took it home.