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No files on 'privileged' garda systems labelling McCabe a 'target' or a 'suspect', Tribunal told

A crucial week looms at Dublin Castle.

Image: Niall Carson/PA Images

THERE ARE NO files on “privileged” garda computer systems and files in the Security & Intelligence Section portraying whistleblower Sergeant Maurice McCabe and former press officer Superintendent David Taylor as targets or “as a suspect or in a derogatory light”, the Disclosures Tribunal was told yesterday.

Peter Kirwan, a former detective chief superintendent who worked in the Security and Intelligence Section (formerly Crime & Security Branch) until last year, was asked by the tribunal to search the section’s files and computer systems for any intelligence files in existence on McCabe, or on a computer system called Oisin at garda HQ.

The tribunal is examining allegations by Taylor that he was directed by former garda commissioner Martin Callinan to brief the media negatively on McCabe. Callinan denies this.

Kirwan was also asked to examine whether intelligence files were kept in Garda HQ on any garda under investigation which were colloquially known as the “corruption file”, and if any such file was kept on either Taylor or McCabe, and whether a phone tap was placed on SMcCabe’s phones.

He told the tribunal that before the 1990s, records in the Security & Intelligence section were paper-based and computerisation began in that decade. It was hoped that eventually all records would be computerised.

He said there was a Security & Intelligence database system known as Oisin, which was introduced in 2015 and replaced a previous system called Verity.

In his report on the searches for the tribunal, Kirwan said that there was “no file or document held whatsoever which presents Sergeant McCabe as a target of An Garda Síochána, or as a suspect or in a derogatory light”.

Garda files contained records of an Operation Oisin crime prevention scheme in October 1998, and an Oisin Programme in 1998, relating to multi-agency information exchanges, but neither of these programmes referred to McCabe in any way.

Files in the intelligence section recorded McCabe as a member of a garda search team in a drugs operation in Clones in 2002, and a smuggling investigation in 1989, Kirwan said. Other hits on the name, McCabe, mentioned in intelligence systems were not Maurice McCabe but other people with the same surname.

Kirwan said there was a folder called “Corruption in public office” in the National Criminal Intelligence Unit (NCIU), which contained “information, reports and intelligence pertaining to misconduct in public office”, such as if a garda was alleged to be involved in drug trafficking or passing information to criminals.

He said there was no mention in those files of McCabe or Taylor in relation to any garda operation. Taylor’s name did appear multiple times in the Verity system in the context of his duties, and once on Oisin.

“For the avoidance of doubt, I can confirm there is no file or document whatsoever which presents Superintendent David Taylor as a target of An Garda Síochána, a suspect or in a derogatory light,” Kirwan reported. A second NCIU file, the “Corruption Index”, was a statistical report only.

Kirwan also searched for any application for a telephone interception placed on McCabe between January 2009 and November 2016. There was no application for any lawful authorisation for phone intercept on anyone of that name, Kirwan said.

Applications were made for telephone data relating to Taylor as part of a criminal investigation into unauthorised disclosures to journalists, Kirwan said. A total of ten applications were processed in relation to the investigation. One of these was for a journalist’s phone and was refused.

Detective Superintendent Brian Brunton gave evidence that searches of garda computer systems were made in the presence of tribunal chairman Justice Peter Charleton when he visited Garda headquarters on 31 July 2017.

The tribunal chairman provided the Security & Intelligence Section with keywords to search, which were McCabe, Maurice, Rat, Oisin, Whistle, Blower, Whistleblower, Person of the year, child, child abuse, and kiddy fiddler.

The keywords also include the first and last name of “Miss D”, whose allegations of sexual assault against McCabe in 2006 were later dismissed by the DPP which found there was no evidence a crime had been committed.

Brunton said that the keyword search resulted in a total of 58,865 hits. Some of these were false positives, such as the word “operation”, which contains the word “rat”.

The tribunal resumes on Monday, when Taylor will begin his evidence. Tribunal barrister Patrick Marrinan SC said Taylor was expected to give evidence until Wednesday, followed by his wife Michelle Taylor.

Former justice minister Alan Shatter TD will appear at the tribunal on Thursday, followed by Callinan, who is also expected to give evidence for several days.

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Gerard Cunningham

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