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This is what a TD says he wrote down after meeting Martin Callinan in a car park

John McGuinness TD will give evidence tomorrow at the Disclosures Tribunal on a crucial meeting in a car park.

callinan notes Source: Disclosures Tribunal

THE ABOVE IMAGE shows the words that Fianna Fáil TD John McGuinness has said he wrote down after meeting then-garda commissioner Martin Callinan in a car park.

The note was read out when the Disclosures Tribunal’s counsel made its opening statement last June.

McGuinness had said to the Tribunal that he had kept the handwritten note of the meeting he had with Callinan, where he claims the then-garda commissioner told him that garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe had sexually assaulted his own children.

Beginning tomorrow, with evidence from McGuinness himself, the Tribunal will begin to delve into one of the key dates in the alleged smear campaign against McCabe from the highest echelons of An Garda Síochána.

And that’s 24 January 2014, when Callinan met with McGuinness, who was head of the Public Accounts Committee (Pac) at the time. Just a day prior, Callinan had referred to the conduct of whistleblowers as “disgusting”.

This meeting occurred in the car park of Bewley’s Hotel in Newlands Cross in Dublin.

An interesting venue, to be sure, for the most senior garda in the country to be meeting a TD with a very important function at the time, given the PAC was examining the penalty points scandal at the time.

What McGuinness says happened

90435032_90435032 John McGuinness previously was chairman of the Public Accounts Committee Source: Leah Farrell/Rollingnews.ie

In his statement to the Tribunal, McGuinness gave an in-depth account of what he says happened in that car park with Martin Callinan.

He said: “Mr Callinan asked if I was aware of issues surrounding Mr McCabe’s personal life.

I stated that I had heard vague rumours and gossip that Mr McCabe had abused someone and that he was a paedophile but that I had been assured by Mr McCabe that these rumours were lies, that he had heard them before and that they were malicious falsehoods.
Mr Callinan stated to me that the rumours were true, that Mr McCabe had sexually abused someone and that he was not a credible person. Mr Callinan stated that an investigation into Mr McCabe’s activities was underway. Mr Callinan then asked me was I aware that Mr McCabe had sexually abused family members.

“I was shocked and extremely troubled by what Mr Callinan was telling me because the allegations being made were extreme and the person relaying them to me, as well as the fact that an investigation had commenced, was the commissioner of An Garda Síochána.

When he left my car, Mr Callinan put his hand on my arm and stated that Mr McCabe was not reliable and could not be trusted and suggested that I had gotten myself and the Public Accounts Committee into a lot of trouble by pursuing the penalty points issue.

What Callinan says happened

In a lengthy riposte to McGuinness’ claims, Callinan said in a statement to the Disclosures Tribunal that during the course of this car park meeting the TD asked him why McCabe was raising his issues within the gardaí.

“He asked if it was because of the file that went to the DPP,” he said. “It was clear he was already aware prior to our meeting that Sergeant McCabe had been the subject of a criminal investigation.”

File Photo Maurice McCabe's Smear Campaign Martin Callinan stepped down as commissioner in March 2014 Source: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

Now, this allegation has already been the subject of plenty of examination at the Tribunal.

In late 2006, McCabe had been accused by a colleague’s daughter of sexually assaulting her. After an investigation, the DPP recommended no prosecution and exonerated McCabe of wrongdoing.

Callinan said that it isn’t correct that he asked McGuinness if he was aware of a previous allegation against McCabe.

He said: “Mr McGuinness was the one to raise the issue at our meeting. However, the word ‘paedophile’ never entered the conversation.

I did not at any time state to Mr McGuinness that Mr McCabe had sexually abused anyone or that he was not a credible person.

Callinan also denied other claims that he had said an investigation was underway, and “never at any stage” indicated to McGuinness that McCabe had sexually abused family members.

As to whether McCabe was “not to be trusted”, Callinan said he never stated that, but did say that some of the allegations McCabe had made turned out to be untrue.

What Taylor says happened

File Photo Garda whistleblower Sergeant Maurice McCabe has told the Disclosures Tribunal that former garda commissioner Martin Callinan told Fianna Fáil TD John McGuinness that Sgt McCabe had abused his own children and his nieces, and was not to be trus David Taylor made a protected disclosure about being directed to brief the media negatively about Maurice McCabe Source: Laura Hutton/Rollingnews.ie

Although not at the meeting, then-head of the garda press office Superintendent David Taylor said in his statement to the Tribunal that he was aware that it was taking place.

He said: “A few days before Sergeant McCabe was due to attend the PAC hearing in January 2014, I recall that I attended Dundalk Garda Station as we were to conduct a press conference.”

That press conference was set to mark the anniversary of the death of Garda Adrian Donohoe.

Taylor said he arrived early to the station and briefed Callinan when he arrived.

“During that briefing I was informed by the commissioner that he had a telephone conversation with John McGuinness, then chairman of PAC, who he informed me had agreed to meet with him,” Taylor said.

The location of the meeting was Bewley’s Hotel at Newlands Cross as it was on McGuinness’s route home. I knew the commissioner had been trying to reach out to Mr McGuinness in his capacity as chairman of PAC concerning Sergeant McCabe.

Taylor went on to say that Callinan had mentioned McGuinness a number of times in the days prior to this, but said Callinan did not discuss with him what he wanted to talk to McGuinness about.

He said he had to delay the press conference as Callinan decided to leave Dundalk to immediately travel to meet McGuinness. Callinan later returned and the press conference was held after 4pm.

“The commissioner never discussed the meeting with me save to confirm it took place,” Taylor said.

What else will happen over the next week or so?

For her part, Nóirín O’Sullivan denies any involvement of what went on in that car park, and has maintained that she had no part in any alleged smear campaign against Maurice McCabe.

Whistleblower Story Nóirín O'Sullivan denies any knowledge or role in any smear campaign against McCabe Source: Eamonn Farrell/Rollingnews.ie

McCabe says he met with McGuinness in May 2016, and the TD filled him in on the details of the meeting. It is understood that McGuinness’ version of this conversation will tally with that of McCabe’s to the Tribunal last month.

What will also be under the microscope is a conversation following a meeting of the PAC just a day prior on 23 January.

A number of people were present at this, including Callinan, McGuinness and Comptroller and Auditor General Seamus McCarthy.

In a statement, McCarthy recalled Callinan referring to “Sergeant McCabe by name and made statements to the effect that Sergeant McCabe was not to be trusted, that he had questions to answer, and that there were allegations of sexual offences against him”.

Callinan again denied this and said that it was actually McCarthy who brought up allegations against McCabe, having heard “rumours” about him.

Furthermore, David Taylor has said that with Nóirín O’Sullivan, then-garda communications director Andrew McLindon, assistant commissioner John O’Mahoney and McGuinness all in the room, Martin Callinan referred to McCabe as a “kiddie fiddler”.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll hear from all involved on what they know, and what they remember as this whole saga kicks back into gear.

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About the author:

Sean Murray

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