Taylor denies telling TD how to spot if Nóirín O’Sullivan ‘lying’
Ex-Garda press chief tells tribunal some of McCabe’s account of 2016 meeting incorrect
Supt Dave Taylor (left) arriving at the Charleton Tribunal at Dublin Castle. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times.
The former head of the Garda Press Office has denied telling Wexford TD Mick Wallace that when former Garda commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan shifts in her seat, it shows she is lying.
Supt Dave Taylor was being questioned at the Charleton Tribunal about a statement given to the inquiry by Mr Wallace, in which he said Supt Taylor said of Ms O’Sullivan: “When she moves she is lying”.
Supt Taylor said the Independents4Change TD’s statement was not correct.
The tribunal is investigating a claim by Supt Taylor that during his time as head of the Garda Press Office he was ordered by the then commissioner, Martin Callinan, to conduct a smear campaign against Sgt Maurice McCabe.
He also said the then deputy commissioner, Ms O’Sullivan, knew about the campaign. Both officers have denied the claim.
Michael McDowell SC, for Sgt McCabe, asked Supt Taylor about his client’s account of a meeting between the two in September 2016, during which Supt Taylor said he had conducted a smear campaign against him.
Supt Taylor said that some of Sgt McCabe’s account of what had been said was not correct. Mr McDowell said that during this meeting, Supt Taylor had claimed that Ms O’Sullivan would lie. Supt Taylor did not agree.
“You were in the habit of impugning her and saying that she told lies,” Mr McDowell said.
“I don’t accept that,” said Supt Taylor. He said it was not the case that he told Sgt McCabe that Ms O’Sullivan was the “pusher” in so far as the alleged smear campaign was concerned.
“It’s a word I would never use.”
Supt Taylor told Mr McDowell that at the time he was instructed by Mr Callinan to tell journalists that Sgt McCabe was motivated by “revenge” when making his whistleblowing disclosures.
He said he believed it when he was told that there had been a false sex abuse allegation made against Sgt McCabe some years earlier and that Sgt McCabe resented how this had been handled.
Supt Taylor said he did not believe at the time that he was involved in wrongdoing in smearing Sgt McCabe. He said he changed his mind when he was suspended and removed from the “hot house of Garda culture and could reflect”.
He now believed the smear campaign should not have been carried out irrespective of whether what was being said was true or not.
“I now know it is not true,” he said.
Supt Taylor said he apologised to Sgt McCabe during the September 2016 meeting for his involvement in the alleged smear campaign.
“I apologised for my involvement and I apologise here again today.”
Seán Gillane SC, for RTÉ, said the smear campaign which Supt Taylor said he conducted, had borne “no fruit.”
According to Supt Taylor, Mr Callinan was “infuriated” by the fact that RTÉ was broadcasting praise of Sgt McCabe.
Mr Gillane said that RTÉ journalists Paul Reynolds and John Burke would say it was not the case, as claimed by Supt Taylor, that he had briefed them negatively about Sgt McCabe. The two are on a list of nine journalists Supt Taylor named to the tribunal as having received negative briefings from him.
Later, when being interviewed in private by the tribunal staff, Supt Taylor under questioning added the names of journalists Debbie McCann of the Irish Mail on Sunday, and Eavan Murray, of the Irish Sun.
Mr Gillane said that in all the work of the tribunal to date, the two journalists were the only ones Supt Taylor had given any details about his engagement with.
With the journalists on the original list, he has given no detail of any engagement.
Was appearance on the list a matter of “pot luck”? Mr Gillane asked.
“Absolutely not,” said Supt Taylor. He said it had always been his intention to give a full account of who he had spoken to during the alleged smear campaign. He agreed with Mr Gillane that he had never met Mr Burke.
Oisín Quinn SC, for Irish Examiner journalists Juno McEnroe, Daniel McConnell and Cormac O’Keeffe, who are also on Supt Taylor’s list, said he was not putting any questions to the witness. He said he was doing this for reasons of journalistic privilege.
Supt Taylor has said he has waived any right to privilege that might cover his confidential dealings with journalists.
The tribunal chairman, Mr Justice Peter Charleton, said he was not sure on what grounds the journalists were claiming privilege.
Supt Taylor’s evidence continues.