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Philip Boucher-Hayes says that Callinan told him McCabe had done 'horrific things... the worst kind'

The RTÉ journalist made strong allegations against the former garda commissioner at the Disclosures Tribunal today.

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RTÉ JOURNALIST PHILIP Boucher-Hayes has told the Disclosures Tribunal that then-garda commissioner Martin Callinan told him that McCabe has “psychiatric” and “psychological” issues, and had done “horrific things”.

The journalist claims that Callinan told him this in a private conversation prior to the Christmas episode of Crimecall in December 2013. Callinan has already denied the claims in his evidence at Dublin Castle.

The Tribunal is continuing to hear evidence from journalists on the claims that there was a smear campaign being run against Maurice McCabe that was directed by senior gardaí.

It also heard testimony from two more journalists who said that they heard rumours that McCabe had sexually abused a child.

Boucher-Hayes said that the gardaí had sent in a number of questions that they wanted Callinan to be asked on the programme, but that none of them were to do with controversial topics like rural station closures and the penalty points issue.

7354 Philip Boucher Hayes_90546363 RTÉ journalist Philip Boucher-Hayes Source: Leah Farrell/Rollingnews.ie

He said: “They presented us with a list of questions which was frankly completely unheard of… Some of the questions were so far removed from public interest, it was comical.”

Through crossed wires, Boucher-Hayes said that it was the gardaí’s belief when they arrived at the studio that evening that he and co-host Gráinne Seoige would ask the prescribed questions.

When he saw Callinan, Boucher-Hayes said he made a “beeline” for him, and walked along a corridor to have a private chat.

The journalist said that the commissioner introduced the name of Maurice McCabe into the conversation, and began disparaging him.

He said Callinan told him McCabe had “well-known issues”, “psychiatric issues”, “psychological issues”. Boucher-Hayes said Callinan also said that McCabe had done “horrific things… the worst kind of things”, but didn’t go into further detail.

He added that Callinan closed the conversation by saying to him that if he wanted to know more, he should ask David Taylor.

Asked for his reaction, Boucher-Hayes said: “I didn’t believe what I was hearing. I felt it was a smokescreen that was being deflected on the penalty points issue. I knew there was no suggestion of either murder or genocide… I assumed it was child sexual abuse or rape, perhaps.”

Callinan, giving evidence last week, told the Tribunal that Boucher-Hayes’ account is incorrect and he didn’t smear McCabe to him in any way.

‘Patriotic duty’

Mr Justice Peter Charleton kicked off proceedings today with a direct call for anyone who has information that could help the Tribunal to come forward, as there is not long left for witnesses to give evidence.

He said that “the people” own this country and that “we have a responsibility to do our best”. The judge said ”it’s not a question of dodging and weaving through legal rules”.

Mr Justice Charleton said: “There is a patriotic duty to anyone who has information that could be of assistance to this Tribunal should come forward.”

He added that it “wasn’t good enough” for people to withhold information that may help him to determine if there was a smear campaign against Maurice McCabe, and decided on other parts of the terms of reference.

‘Horrified’

7279 Justine McCarthy_90546359 Justine McCarthy arriving at Dublin Castle this morning. Source: Leah Farrell/Rollingnews.ie

Sunday Times journalist and columnist Justine McCarthy gave evidence this morning.

She told the Tribunal that a journalist came to her in late 2013 and told her that Maurice McCabe had sexually abused a child.

Not naming the journalist, she said that she was “horrified” by what she heard.

McCarthy said: “I was stopped in my tracks by what he told me.

She added that this wasn’t told to her in a malicious way, and that the journalist was repeating something they had heard. She also said she didn’t know where the journalist got that information.

I can’t remember specific words but impression I came away with was that Sergeant McCabe had been accused of sexually abusing a child and the issue had not been concluded.

The Tribunal also heard from DCU lecturer and journalist Colum Kenny. He said that he was approached by two journalists who told him they’d been given the same negative information about Maurice McCabe.

He didn’t name them at the public hearing today but told the Tribunal he would pass on the names of these journalists.

Kenny added that both of these people “are long-standing, professional journalists”.

‘Child abuser’

The Tribunal also heard its final evidence from Irish Daily Mail journalist Alison O’Reilly yesterday.

It’s her assertion that she was told by colleague Debbie McCann that Maurice McCabe was a “child abuser” and that McCann was told negative things about the whistleblower by Nóirín O’Sullivan and former press officer Superintendent Dave Taylor.

Yesterday, Mr Justice Charleton implored barristers representing McCann to present her version of events and put them to O’Reilly.

Today, the Tribunal heard that McCann strenuously denies many of the allegations O’Reilly has made.

She denies being given briefings about McCabe from O’Sullivan and Taylor. She denies telling O’Reilly that she interviewed Ms D – the woman who made a 2006 allegation of sexual abuse against McCabe, for which he was exonerated.

O’Reilly denied an assertion out to her that she was “making up” McCann telling her these things.

She persisted that she has a “clear recollection” of McCann telling her. O’Reilly said: “[McCann] either wasn’t telling the truth then or she wasn’t telling the truth now.”

The Tribunal will resume on Tuesday, with evidence due to be given by journalists such as Paul Reynolds and Mick Clifford.

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Sean Murray

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