Retired civil servant denies saying Garda ‘going after’ McCabe
Cyril Dunne tells tribunal Nóirín O’Sullivan was ‘very much supporting’ whistleblower
Cyril Dunne, a civilian who held a post equivalent to deputy Garda commissioner, says Nóirín O’Sullivan was “generally very concerned with a duty of care to everyone, including Sgt McCabe”. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill
A retired civil servant has denied telling a former colleague the Garda legal team was “going after” whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe at the O’Higgins commission.
The commission, which sat in private in 2015, investigated complaints made by Sgt McCabe about certain policing matters in Cavan and serious allegations against senior officers including then Garda commissioner, Martin Callinan.
The tribunal is currently examining whether unjustified grounds were inappropriately relied upon by former Garda commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan to discredit Sgt McCabe at the O’Higgins commission.
On Wednesday, Mr Dunne testified he never made the remark attributed to him by Mr Barrett.
“That is absolutely my evidence,” the former chief administrative officer told the tribunal.
Mr Dunne, a civilian who held a post equivalent to that of a deputy Garda commissioner, said Ms O’Sullivan was “generally very concerned with a duty of care to everyone, including Sgt McCabe”, in the months leading up to the first hearings at the O’Higgins commission.
“She was very keen to have the commission establish what the real truth was,” Mr Dunne said.
He was asked by tribunal barrister Diarmaid McGuinness SC if Ms O’Sullivan had ever spoken about challenging Sgt McCabe’s motivation, integrity or credibility before the commission.
“The opposite in fact. The impression I had was she was very much supporting him,” Mr Dunne said.
Mr Dunne said he was not involved in operational policing issues, or in preparations for the O’Higgins commission.
“I didn’t have a particular view around the commission at all. It was happening around me but it wasn’t something I was engaged with at all,” he said.
Mr Dunne said he did not recall a meeting with the commissioner and Mr Barrett on either May 12th or May 13th, 2015, the days before the commission’s first day of hearings.
Mr Barrett told the tribunal he believed May 13th was the most likely date on which Mr Dunne made the alleged remark to him.
Mr Dunne continues his evidence on Thursday.
Earlier, Marion Mannion, a special adviser to former tánaiste and minister for justice Frances Fitzgerald, told the tribunal the minister was “very firm” that the issues raised by Sgt McCabe needed to be resolved, and hoped the O’Higgins commission would achieve this.
Ms Mannion said the minister and the Department of Justice believed it would not be appropriate to comment publicly on the commission’s work once it began until its work was complete.
Ms Mannion said she might have had discussions with Ms Fitzgerald about queries from RTÉ reporter John Burke ahead of a radio interview on July 5th, 2015, about Sgt McCabe and the O’Higgins commission. She said it would be her practice to discuss likely questions with the programme ahead of the interview, but she could not recall details.
She said that if RTÉ had raised the commission, she would have informed them that the minister could not answer questions about it while its work was ongoing.
“That wouldn’t stop them asking of course, but we wouldn’t be answering,” Ms Mannion said.
Ms Mannion also said notes apparently relating to a meeting between the minister and the Garda commissioner on May 18th, 2016, as the O’Higgins report was being published, were an “aide memoire” of things she was told, and she had not attended the meeting.