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What the Disclosures Tribunal heard: A definitive timeline of the Maurice McCabe story

The Tribunal heard almost 100 days of evidence, and this timeline covers how this debacle developed over more than a decade.

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SO, AFTER ALMOST 100 days, that’s a wrap for hearings of the Disclosures Tribunal.

Sergeant Maurice McCabe is a name known to all by now, but the exact details of what was heard by the Tribunal was messy, with witnesses giving competing and, at times, contradictory accounts of what really happened.

Key-Players-v3 (1) Source: TheJournal.ie/RollingNews.ie

Can’t see the full image? Click here

McCabe was whistleblowing against failures within the gardaí, after years of feeling his complaints weren’t being listened to.

At the same time, it is alleged that the garda commissioner ordered a smear campaign against the whistleblower.

At the same time, rumours were rife in journalistic and political circles that McCabe was facing allegations of sexual abuse.

Collage journal blue (1) Source: Rollingnews.ie

At the same time, a string of errors meant that incredibly serious and erroneous allegations of rape were put on a file on Maurice McCabe by Tusla.

So, how did we get here? And where does all of this fit together? Here’s TheJournal.ie‘s definitive timeline of events in the whole McCabe saga.


October: Maurice McCabe is transferred back to Bailieborough Garda Station in Cavan after spending four years in Clones. He had been moved to the Monaghan station in 2000 when he was promoted to sergeant.

He’d previously spent 11 years in Bailieborough as a rank-and-file garda from 1989 to 2000.

bailieborough garda station Bailieborough Garda Station Source: Google Maps


January: Sergeant Maurice McCabe complains to his superior officer about the behaviour of some of his colleagues at Bailieborough Garda Station.

Mr D – father of Ms D (more on her later) – is one of the gardaí accused of attending the scene of a suicide in the local area in a “highly emotional and intoxicated” state. The gardaí had attended an emotionally-charged funeral earlier that day and had later gone to a pub after they finished work.

After a report from McCabe, who was in charge at that scene, Mr D and another officer are “reverted to regular duties”.

December: Ms D makes a formal complaint to the gardaí in Cavan against McCabe, alleging that he had sexually assaulted her many years earlier when she was a child during the 1990s. The now-teenager had previously disclosed these allegations by confiding in her parents and a number of relatives in 2005 and 2006 before making a formal complaint to gardaí.

Ms D claimed that McCabe had tickled her and touched her inappropriately during a game of hide and seek.

The case was assigned to Inspector Noel Cunningham to investigate. He later told the Tribunal that it wasn’t a job he relished. As part of the probe, he interviews McCabe.

22092 Cunningham_90518412 (1) Noel Cunningham was tasked with investigating the D allegation. Source: Leah Farrell/Rollingnews.ie


19 February: Cunningham completes his report on the investigation and sends it to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP). In it, he says: “Taking all the matters into consideration, including the question of whether the event, if it happened, constituted a breach of the criminal law, it is felt there is no ground for criminal prosecution.”

He also sends it to his superior, Chief Superintendent Colm Rooney. McCabe is not aware of the content of the report at this time.

27 February: Rooney examines the file and doesn’t propose a disciplinary investigation into Maurice McCabe but does send a copy of it to An Garda Síochána’s human resources management.

1 March: State solicitor Rory Hayden forwards the file to the DPP with this comment: “I do not think any case arises for a prosecution due to a number of inconsistencies in the file, and the strain and credibility of Ms D, with the allegation itself unclear and even on Ms D’s account the incident amounted to horseplay and no more.”

5 April: The DPP gives its directions. It says: “Even if there wasn’t a doubt over her credibility, the incident that she describes does not amount to a sexual assault or indeed an assault.”

11 April: McCabe gets a phone call from Hayden, who conveyed the DPP directions to him. “I felt great. I was extremely happy,” he later told the Tribunal.

1350 Maurice McCabe_90541737 McCabe was delighted to be exonerated of Ms D's allegation Source: Leah Farrell/Rollingnews.ie

23 April: McCabe rings Cunningham. He told the Tribunal he was “annoyed” that Cunningham hadn’t informed him of the DPP directions and “feigned” to Cunningham that he hadn’t already been told them.

Cunningham asks to meet McCabe to convey the directions personally but McCabe opted not to. The inspector also conveys to the D family that the matter wouldn’t be pursued further but doesn’t give them the DPP directions, as it would be normal protocol in such cases not to directly hand over.

26 April: McCabe meets Chief Superintendent Rooney. He later told the Tribunal: “I sought a meeting with him, and I met him in Monaghan, and I conveyed my annoyance, just to the fact that I had to ring Inspector Cunningham in relation to the directions.”

8 May: McCabe meets Cunningham, accompanied by another sergeant. Cunningham tells him the DPP directions and McCabe told the Tribunal he was happy to let matters lie at that stage.

15 October: Fast forward past the summer, and there’s an incident that takes place at Bailieborough courthouse. Mrs D walks into the court when McCabe is present.

He said: “So we seen her in court and she looked over at me and walked over to me, and Inspector Cunningham seen her… so he said leave the court and she left the court after.” McCabe added he felt “intimidated” by it.

17 October: McCabe is walking in the town and sees the D car pull up. He later said: “Ms D hopped out of the car and walked over to me. I didn’t want a confrontation, so I walked to the station, I went inside. I learned then, earlier she had been in the station in Bailieborough.” McCabe said he felt “awful” about it, as he was still being confronted over an issue he had been exonerated of. The suggestion is that in both situations, the women had gone to confront McCabe.

15 November: McCabe writes to his superior, Superintendent Mick Clancy, about what he believes are deficiencies in a separate investigation file relating to an assault at a hotel earlier that year.

28 November: Clancy agrees the matter should be reviewed so meets with McCabe and the investigating officer. That officer receives a reprimand but McCabe told the Tribunal he thinks he [McCabe] used words to the effect that “[the officer] got off lightly”.

2007 Summary: The investigation into McCabe exonerates him of wrongdoing. He gets annoyed that the colleague investigating it doesn’t tell him straight away he’s been cleared. He takes it further to the chief superintendent but lets things lie there. After the dust settles, he’s confronted by members of the D family. Towards the end of the year, McCabe begins to raise concerns about deficiencies in investigations at Bailieborough to Superintendent Clancy, from whom he perceives a lack of support.


28 January: McCabe writes to Superintendent Clancy again, but this time with a number of concerns about the standards in Bailieborough Garda Station.

It includes: “Members not turning up for duty on time, members not turning up for duty at all, members not signing on or off in the diary, members not doing foot patrol, investigation files not being done, investigation files [being] very poor, incidents not being investigated…”

He says he has tried to address all the issues, but was failing through no fault of his own. McCabe adds he “cannot put up with the situation any longer” and it’s “unfair on probationers [recently-graduated gardaí] that these low standards are being accepted”.

He told the Tribunal he handed this letter to Clancy that day and chatted through the problems. McCabe said at the time he was “happy he brought the issues up”.

12 February: McCabe writes to Clancy about deficiencies in another investigation.

25 February: He writes to Clancy again but this time it’s about the behaviour of Mr D and a number of incidents during which McCabe alleged he had been approached and intimidated. McCabe said Clancy had asked him to put in writing all the history so that Clancy could then ask for the DPP directions to be given to McCabe and Mr D.

Counsel representing the gardaí at the Tribunal later put it to McCabe that it was actually he who had complained about Mr D rather than Clancy asking McCabe to put the history in writing. But McCabe did not accept this, and said it was Clancy’s idea for him to do this so they could get the DPP directions given.

In the letter, McCabe writes: “I am married with five children and this scurrilous allegation has ruined my life forever. I am a completely changed person in that I don’t trust anyone anymore. I urge you, if you can, to ask the DPP to allow the full DPP directions to be conveyed to me and the other party… due to the fact that all parties work in close proximity and I would really appreciate it, that is all I’m asking.”

0193 Disclosures Tribunal_90517189 Mr Justice Peter Charleton interjected frequently in proceedings when he needed clarity. Source: Leah Farrell/Rollingnews.ie

Mr Justice Charleton, during McCabe’s evidence at the Tribunal, noted: “But I just can’t understand how Superintendent Clancy would come up with the notion that out of sympathy for you he wanted you to ask him to write a letter in relation to why the DPP’s directions should be distributed to both sides, that is the bit I can’t understand.”

4 March: McCabe writes to Superintendent Clancy and says he wants to leave Bailieborough Garda Station, saying it’s because of the “lack of management support, the lack of standards, lack of accountability, lack of duty to the public”.

11 March: McCabe meets with Clancy, and said that Clancy told him he would not be releasing the DPP direction.

McCabe secretly records the conversation. In it, he accuses Clancy of not giving him help. McCabe says that he has brought these deficiencies to Clancy’s attention and has “suffered” as a result.

“I was completely victimised as a result,” he tells Clancy. The superintendent responds: “Look Maurice, you are an honourable fellow and I am sorry if that is the way you feel.”

There’s a back and forth about responsibility and accountability for failings between the sergeant in charge at the station and the superintendent above him.

There was no discussion of the D matter on the recording. McCabe told the Tribunal a portion of the recording is “missing”.

18 March: Superintendent Clancy leaves Bailieborough to transfer to another station, and Inspector Noel Cunningham takes over as acting superintendent.

19 March: Cunningham goes to McCabe and asks if he’ll change his mind about leaving the station.

28 April: McCabe makes a formal complaint to human resources management, alleging that he has undergone harassment, bullying, discrimination and victimisation at the hands of Superintendent Clancy. The complaint also includes the previous deficiencies at the station that he’d highlighted to Clancy, but nothing about the matters related to Ms D.

13 May: The matter escalates up the garda hierarchy. Assistant Commissioner Derek Byrne appoints Chief Superintendent Terry McGinn – a senior officer from a separate district – to investigate the complaints made by McCabe about the deficiencies in investigations at Bailieborough station.

90411844_90411844 Derek Byrne was one of those tasked with investigating McCabe's complaints. Source: Sasko Lazarov/Rollingnews.ie

May/June: McCabe gives a number of statements to McGinn.

23 July: McCabe moves on from Bailieborough and starts at Mullingar Garda Station.

25 August: McCabe meets now-Superintendent Cunningham with another officer present at Mullingar Garda Station (*what didn’t happen in this meeting will cause quite the stir years later). McCabe also secretly records this conversation.

Cunningham is looking into what McCabe said about Mr D in his February statement. Cunningham says he’s been ordered to look into this by a superior officer in the district but McCabe says he already told Cunningham all about this Mr D stuff back at the time of the original sexual abuse allegation in December 2006.

McCabe tells Cunningham: “I didn’t write a complaint. I wrote to Mick Clancy on Mick Clancy’s advice, highlighting the problems I had with Mr. D. That’s what Mick Clancy advised me to do… All I wanted was for the DPP’s directions to be shown to each party.”

Cunningham’s account of the conversation doesn’t differ from McCabe’s and this was reflected in the transcript of the sergeant’s recording.

14 October: McCabe sends in a report to the confidential recipient – the designated independent person to receive such complaints from gardaí – that includes his claims against Clancy and other aspects of the investigations.

15 October: McCabe then makes a complaint against Chief Superintendent Colm Rooney, who heads up the Cavan-Monaghan district. Because of this escalation, Terry McGinn (who is of the same rank as Rooney) can no longer investigate these matters, so Assistant Commissioner Derek Byrne takes over the investigation.

2008 Summary: This is a busy year. McCabe is feeling isolated and is “suffering” because he started to make complaints. He feels he has no support from his superior – Clancy – and decides to step down and leave Bailieborough. He complains that Clancy was victimising and bullying him, and also highlights the numerous deficiencies of investigations. At the same time, he says he wants the D family to be given the DPP directions to put that matter to bed once and for all, but this is denied. At the end of the year, he escalates his complaints to include a more senior garda.


23 March: McCabe writes to then-Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern. He asks for an independent person to oversee Assistant Commissioner Derek Byrne’s investigation into his allegations.

He also complains about comments from Colm Rooney in the Anglo Celt newspaper, where he is quoted as saying “I recently read reports in the national and local media in relation to policing in Bailieborough and it was absolute rubbish what was in those reports. It was factually incorrect.”

11 May: Ahern writes back to say that the investigation was a matter for An Garda Síochána and he wouldn’t be intervening.

26 November: A further complaint is made by McCabe to the confidential recipient, which is passed on to the commissioner, this time in relation to comments posted on Facebook. It was in a relation to a photo of a puppet that was on a counter in a pub with the comment “Maurice the rat”. The DPP directs no prosecution in relation to it. [The O'Higgins report would later note McCabe felt he was being subjected to"nasty and odious" material because he had made complaints.]

2009 summary: A fairly quiet year as the garda investigation into complaints made by McCabe rumbles on in the background.


11 October: The report on alleged problems with garda investigations in Bailieborough – dubbed the Byrne/McGinn report – has been prepared. McCabe meets with Assistant Commissioner Byrne and Superintendent Terry McGinn at the Hillgrove Hotel.

McCabe is informed that 11 of his 42 allegations have been upheld. [Six years later, the O'Higgins Commission would be critical of aspects of the Byrne/McGinn report for "failing to address certain specific complaints of Sergeant McCabe regarding the incidents... and/or for dealing with them in vague or general terms".]

Both Byrne/McGinn and O’Higgins reject McCabe’s complaints about Superintendent Clancy.

2 November: Deputy Commissioner Nacie Rice is appointed to investigate complaints McCabe had made through the confidential recipient.

15 November: McCabe’s solicitor writes to the commissioner setting out a number of complaints he had in relation to the manner in which Byrne and McGinn conducted the investigation. McCabe meets Rice 11 days later.

2010 summary: A quiet year in this story, but important to note that the internal garda probe into McCabe’s claims has not upheld much of his complaints. He would then seek to escalate actions to have this issues addressed in the coming years.


8 March: Deputy Commissioner Rice reports back with the conclusion that there was nothing wrong with the Byrne/McGinn investigation. McCabe is informed of this a month later.

16 June: McCabe writes to Minister for Justice Alan Shatter. He asks for a commission of investigation to be set up to look into his complaints about policing in Bailieborough and his complaints against senior officers.

4 July: Chief Superintendent Rooney circulates a letter to stations in the Cavan/Monaghan district, after conversations with Assistant Commissioner Derek Byrne. He says: “The investigation concluded that there was no systemic failures identified in the management and administration of Bailieborough Garda Station… The findings of the Assistant Commissioner vindicate the high standards and professionalism of the district force in Bailieborough.”

McCabe described the circular as a “kick in the teeth”.

Rooney told the Tribunal that he believes the contents of the circular were inappropriate and his “vindication of the high standards was not warranted”.


12 January: McCabe makes an allegation against Commissioner Martin Callinan, concerning the placement of Superintendent Clancy on a list for promotion. He sends it to the garda confidential recipient Oliver Connolly on 23 January. Connolly forwards it to Alan Shatter.

callinan  byrne McCabe makes a number of complaints against senior gardaí. Source: Disclosures Tribunal

McCabe makes a direct allegation of corruption against Callinan, saying “the evidence is clear and it is corruption as defined by An Garda Síochána charter on confidential reporting”.

3 February: Minister Shatter writes to Oliver Connolly and says there’s no evidence that any further action is needed.

McCabe meets with Connolly a number of days later. A major concern of McCabe’s is that the response from the Department of Justice was that the matter should be referred to the commissioner.

In his discussions with McCabe, Connolly stressed that McCabe’s main complaint against Callinan was that of negligence rather than corruption in the normal sense of the word.

10 February: Disciplinary proceedings are launched against McCabe over a case involving a missing computer in the case of a priest suspected of child abuse. [The O'Higgins Commission exonerated McCabe of any wrongdoing in this matter.]

19 February: McCabe gives a dossier containing the details of his allegations to Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, containing the full details of his allegations to date. This dossier is later given to Enda Kenny by Martin.

9 May: McCabe makes a complaint through confidential recipient Connolly against Minister Alan Shatter and how he handled the complaint against Callinan.

McCabe says: “How can any member of An Garda Síochána make a complaint against a senior officer, or the Commissioner, when the result is asking that particular officer in question to investigate himself? It is my belief that the Minister acted in an inappropriate way.”

He goes on: “My allegations [are] of serious corruption, malpractice, gross dereliction of duty and perverting the course of justice and involves senior Garda management – and involves cover-up by senior Garda management.”

July: David Taylor is promoted to the rank of superintendent and made head of the garda press office, having previously served in Garda HQ Crime and Security division

Summer-Autumn: McCabe contacts the Taoiseach’s office and the Department of Transport over the discrepancies in fixed charge penalty notices, in what would later become the penalty points scandal of numerous people having their points wiped, often for inappropriate reasons. 

7 August: Maurice McCabe meets with Mary Henry, from the Comptroller and Auditor General’s office and gives her a file of information about penalty points.

September: The correspondence that McCabe sent to the Department of Transport is furnished to the Department of Justice.

October: Alan Shatter told the Tribunal that McCabe wished to protect his anonymity in making the penalty points complaints. Shatter writes to the garda commissioner about the complaints but did not furnish him with details of who was making the complaints.

90228932_90228932 Alan Shatter with then-Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar. Source: Eamonn Farrell/Rollingnews.ie

31 October: Martin Callinan assigns Assistant Commissioner John O’Mahony to investigate the alleged wrongdoing over fixed charge penalty notices. Both men told the Tribunal there was a belief that McCabe was the person responsible for getting this information out there.

November: Alan Shatter is given an interim report by O’Mahony on the case.

December: McCabe has his access to garda system Pulse restricted on the orders of Martin Callinan. Fellow whistleblower John Wilson also had Pulse access restricted.

Also in this month, a number of individuals are named in the Dáil as having had penalty points wiped. Shatter told the Tribunal some of the names coincided with ones he’d received from McCabe.

Shatter also has senior Department of Justice civil servant Michael Flahive write to McCabe, recommending that if McCabe had concerns about the investigation he should engage directly with the garda authorities conducting it, and reassuring him that he could still engage if he wished to.

2012 summary: McCabe escalates his allegations against senior gardaí, accusing Commissioner Martin Callinan of corruption. He tries and fails to get Minister Alan Shatter to order an independent investigation into it. But, towards the end of the year, he then begins to highlight the deficiencies in the fixed charge notice system which would gather a head of steam in the coming months.


13 April: Gemma O’Doherty, a journalist with the Irish Independent, has acquired a Pulse file which suggests that Martin Callinan had penalty points wiped some years previously.

6407 Gemma O'Doherty_90546247 Gemma O'Doherty was removed from her job soon after visiting the home of Martin Callinan Source: Leah Farrell/Rollingnews.ie

To make sure it’s the Martin Callinan, she visits the address listed as the home address on the Pulse file. A number of  Tribunal witnesses said Callinan was very annoyed at this event, and Dave Taylor and another senior garda met with a number of senior INM executives in the aftermath. O’Doherty is forced to take redundancy with the Independent a number of weeks later. INM said that a number of staff were being made redundant at the time.

15 May: Assistant Commissioner O’Mahony’s investigation finds no evidence to suggest any criminality, corruption, deception or falsification in relation to McCabe’s allegations on fixed charge penalty notices.

27 May: McCabe contacts the Taoiseach rubbishing the findings of O’Mahony’s investigation, and invites the Taoiseach to discuss the matter with him.

July: Ms D seeks counselling reluctantly, at her mother’s request, following the media coverage of the issues highlighted by McCabe. Laura Brophy, a psychologist and counsellor with Rian (a free counselling service under the remit of the HSE), meets Ms D for the first time.

9544 Disclosures Tribunal_90516942 Laura Brophy acknowledged her error at the Tribunal Source: Leah Farrell/Rollingnews.ie

July/August: Laura Brophy makes the so-called “copy and paste error”.  She adds allegations from an unrelated case involving a Ms Y to the Ms D case file. The claims in Ms Y’s file relate to a more serious allegation of digital penetration.

Sometime from July onwards: Superintendent David Taylor alleges that some time in the second half of this year he is ordered by Martin Callinan to smear Maurice McCabe to the media. He alleges Callinan told him about the 2006 allegation against McCabe.

Here’s what Taylor told the Tribunal: “Commissioner Callinan, at this stage, was getting deeply frustrated that the penalty point issue being raised by Sergeant McCabe was not abating, it was growing and growing all the time. He could not be — it was reflecting badly on An Garda Síochána, it was reflecting badly on him.”

I was given specific instructions by Commissioner Callinan to take every opportunity I had with the media to drop into conversations that when they’d bring up Sergeant McCabe — you know, because the issues would come to light frequently/infrequently, they may be raised in the Dáil, they may be raised in social media, they may have been raised by commentators, and if I was to be meeting any of those journalists, to say ‘Well, there’s a backstory here’.

August: HSE social work team leader Keara McGlone writes to Superintendent Noel Cunningham about the (erroneous) allegations received by the HSE at this time from the Ms D file relating to McCabe. Cunningham never responds to the letter.

It was put to him at the Tribunal that he deliberately ignored the letter because it would be “allowed to fester and surface later to cause McCabe some hardship”. Cunningham denied this was the case, and said the letter was only found in 2017 after “very detailed searches”.

A HSE file is created in McCabe’s name at this time.

30 September: The Comptroller and Auditor General publishes a damning report on the penalty points scandal, supporting the claims of McCabe and others.

In the ether: A number of journalists and politicians began to hear rumours about McCabe from this year onwards. Here’s a flavour of what some later told the Tribunal:

Alison O’Reilly (Irish Daily Mail journalist): It’s her assertion that Debbie McCann, a colleague of hers, had heard Maurice McCabe was a “child abuser”. O’Reilly told the Tribunal: “I asked her where she was getting it from and she said the gardaí, someone high up.” Later, O’Reilly said: “I said ‘where is it coming from? Your pal Nóirín?’ She said yes.” McCann has strongly denied all these claims.

Anne Harris (former Sunday Independent editor):  She said that after initially hearing these rumours, they started to proliferate, and that “you would hear quite a lot of this nudge and wink stuff around”.

Mick Clifford (Irish Examiner): The author of a book about McCabe said that he heard the rumours going around about McCabe at least three times in 2014 and someone familiar with politics told him that “you know your man McCabe is supposed to be a kiddie fiddler”.

John McGuinness TD: “I don’t know the source of it, but I do know at the time there was considerable pressure to ensure that the lobbying being carried out by Sergeant Maurice McCabe and others was stopped, and the method used to stop that rumour — to stop that process, was to spread these malicious rumours about Sergeant McCabe, which I ignored and took no part in.”

17 December: Martin Callinan heads to RTÉ to appear on the Christmas edition of Crimecall. There’d been some back and forth that day about what questions would be asked, with presenter Philip Boucher-Hayes adamant that the commissioner should face some tough questions.

When Callinan arrives, Boucher-Hayes alleges they spoke privately where the commissioner told him McCabe had “psychiatric” and “psychological” issues, and had done “horrific things”.

18 December: As part of ongoing correspondence between Callinan and Public Accounts Committee chairman John McGuinness into its investigation of the penalty points scandal, the Fianna Fáil TD tells the commissioner he’s satisfied that it can pursue McCabe’s claims and will do so in the coming year. Callinan makes the case that he’s the data controller for An Garda Síochána and doesn’t want McCabe or anyone else putting people’s confidential information in the public domain.

2013 summary: There’s a lot going on this year. The issues around penalty points McCabe has been put into the public eye. Journalists are reporting it, but they’re also hearing dark rumours about him.A garda investigation doesn’t back up his claims but the Comptroller and Auditor General does.

It is alleged now that Callinan – almost as a way of managing the crisis that’s brewing – orders Taylor to do down McCabe to the media and get a different narrative out there.

Taylor says he started telling journalists about the 2006 allegation and that McCabe is motivated by revenge against the gardaí.

At the same time, Ms D goes for counselling and a catastrophic error is made, putting a serious claim of digital penetration against a child against McCabe on file.


This is a crucial month. Maurice McCabe has passed on his dossiers on the penalty points scandal to Fianna Fáil TD John McGuinness – who is head of the Public Accounts Committee.

23 January: This is the day Martin Callinan appears at PAC. Here’s what some the main players allege happened:

Fine Gael TD – and PAC member – John Deasy: “The guards were already in the coffee dock and I was on my way to committee. I stopped off to get a coffee, and [Callinan] was standing, I believe, with Nóirín O’Sullivan… The only part that I do remember is him saying that Maurice McCabe was not to be believed or trusted with anything. And the reason I think I remember that is because it surprised me, I have to say.”

Comptroller and Auditor General Seamus McCarthy: “I met [Callinan] in the lobby… My recollection is that the Commissioner came forward to have a word with me… We began just with sort of normal greetings and – but very quickly the Commissioner raised Sergeant McCabe’s name in the conversation, along the lines that Sergeant McCabe is not to be trusted, that he had questions to answer and that there were sexual offence allegations against him.”

John McGuinness: “Well, after the meeting we would go and pass some pleasantries, thank them for attending the meeting, for their evidence and so on. On that particular day, as I have stated, as I approached the garda commissioner, he immediately went into a story, or telling me about an incident involving John Wilson… [and Callinan then said] ‘and the other fella fiddles with kids; they’re the kind of fucking headbangers I am dealing with’.” [Dave Taylor has corroborated McGuinness' account]

Callinan denies saying what the other three here are alleging. What isn’t disputed is what he said during the PAC meeting.

When asked about the actions of whistleblowers, Callinan said: “On a personal level, I think it’s quite disgusting.” He told the Tribunal he meant the actions of the persons involved were disgusting, rather than the men themselves.

24 January: McGuinness gets a call from Callinan who wants to meet him, and they arrange to meet at Bewley’s Hotel in Newlands Cross.

Here’s McGuinness’ account: “I arrived in the car park, as arranged… And then he immediately got into the conversation to do with Maurice McCabe and the issues… there was issues to do with Maurice McCabe and his behaviour… he had sexually abused his family and an individual, that he was not be trusted, that I had made a grave error in relation to the Public Accounts Committee and the hearings because of this and that I would find myself in serious trouble.”

Callinan has a different version. He said: “I say it’s absolutely untrue… He did indicate that he had heard rumours about Sergeant McCabe in the sense that he seemed to be aware of the investigation underlying the allegation. He told me that. He brought it to my attention, in the course of the conversation, that he was aware that Sergeant McCabe had been investigated over matters of a sexual nature.”

26 January: Gerald Kean appears on RTÉ’s Marian Finucane Show. He had spoken to Martin Callinan about McCabe several times the previous day on the phone, and says on air words to the effect that McCabe hadn’t cooperated with the garda review into penalty points. He had only ever met Callinan once before.

McCabe rings RTÉ to complain and sent Kean a letter of complaint for his comments. He wrote that he heard them at work and they left him “upset, annoyed and furious”. McCabe would later receive a legal settlement from RTÉ over the comments.

30 January: Despite Callinan’s reservations, McCabe gives evidence to the PAC. Its members told the Tribunal he gave a comprehensive and credible account of his allegations in relation to malpractice in the penalty points system.


First three months of 2014: Two journalists go to Cavan and attempt to secure an interview with Ms D. They are unsuccessful. Eavan Murray and Debbie McCann told the Tribunal that David Taylor didn’t give them the information or a negative briefing.

February: Kean sends a letter to Garda HQ, which is a draft of a reply to what McCabe has sent him over his comments on the RTÉ programme. Callinan’s private secretary Superintendent Frank Walsh called it “most unusual and inappropriate”.

Also this month, McGuinness meets with party leader Micheál Martin and tells him what Callinan allegedly said in that car park.

25 February: The Cabinet agrees to appoint senior counsel Seán Guerin to conduct an independent examination of McCabe’s dossier of complaints that had been investigated by Byrne/McGinn. Guerin is giving the task of reporting back around Easter time.

8 March: Journalist Paul Williams conducts an interview with Ms D, after visiting her family home in Cavan. He also told the Tribunal he wasn’t briefed by Taylor.

0565 Paul Williams_90546952 Paul Williams interviewed Ms D in her home in Cavan Source: Leah Farrell/Rollingnews.ie

23 March: Martin Callinan resigns as garda commissioner. Penalty points were one of a string of controversies that signalled his demise. Nóirín O’Sullivan takes over as acting commissioner. Taylor texts Callinan: “Commissioner, I feel so sorry for the way you have been treated, it’s despicable. You will always be the boss to me and I’m proud to have served under you and worked with you.”

April: Three articles are published over a number of weeks written by Paul Williams and based on the Ms D interviews in the Irish Independent. He neither names her nor McCabe in the pieces.

29 April: Ms D makes a complaint to GSOC over how her original allegations were investigated. It’s not upheld.

30 April: Social worker Laura Connolly reviews Ms D’s file. She then creates records for each of McCabe’s children. These records erroneously contained the allegations from the Ms Y case.

2 May: The HSE Southeast receives copies of the report containing erroneous allegations.

Around this time, Nóirín O’Sullivan reaches out to McCabe and has his Pulse access restored.

7 May: Alan Shatter resigns as Minister for Justice due to the contents of the Guerin report, which said that both the gardaí and the minister failed to properly investigate the matters raised by McCabe. He is later exonerated of wrongdoing.

On the same day, a Tusla notification is issued to gardaí in charge at Bailieborough containing the false McCabe allegations.

9 May: The Guerin Report is published, with the senior counsel calling for a commission of investigation to be set up to look into the complaints.

Whistleblower Story Nóirín O'Sullivan took the reins from Callinan after his resignation. Source: Eamonn Farrell/Rollingnews.ie

14 May: At some stage prior to this date in May, Ms D’s father contacts her to tell her about the allegation of digital rape on a Tusla notification sent to gardaí. ”I completely lost it. I said over and over that is not me, I never said that,” Ms D later tells the Tribunal.

On this date, Ms D contacts Laura Brophy, the psychologist and counsellor who she had spoken to in 2013 and who unbeknownst to Ms D had made the so-called copy-and-paste error,  and informs her of the error. Brophy said Ms D was emotional and upset, and told her there was a report in Bailieborough Garda station to the effect that she had been raped.

Brophy contacts Fiona Ward, a director of counselling at Rian, after discovering the error. She tells her that incorrect details were included in a report of historical abuse, including the name of another client of the counselling service, Ms Y.

Garda sergeant Tony Byrne told the Tribunal he did not see the notification sent to the station, and that it would be “unusual” for him not to see such a file.

16 May: The Tusla notification is sent to office of Nóirín O’Sullivan. Her secretary Walsh said that he recalls bringing it to her attention. She told Tribunal: “I can’t recall that… I have no recollection of actually seeing or reading the content of this file.”

9 June: Chief Superintendent James Sheridan writes to Fiona Ward to ask for clarification on whether the allegation was new or related to a previous report, and how the error had occurred and was discovered.

Inspector Pat O’Connell speaks to Ward seeking clarification, and asks if it was “a typographical error/cut and paste” which led to the incorrect information being sent out. Ward confirms this is the case.

Documents are added to the file to clarify a mistake has been, but the documents containing the false allegation also remain on the file.

10 June: Taylor is removed from his position as head of the garda press office, and is reassigned to the traffic corps. It’s his assertion the smear campaign stopped once Callinan resigned but that O’Sullivan had been aware of it all along.

0022 David Taylor_90544859 Taylor was later suspended from his position, accusing of leaking information. Source: Leah Farrell/Rollingnews.ie

Summer onwards: McCabe meets with Nóirín O’Sullivan, and she told the Tribunal she aimed to offer all the appropriate supports to him.

13 October: McCabe seeks a meeting with Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald. He wants to inform her of the “forms of abuse I am receiving just for doing my job”.

25 November: Nóirín O’Sullivan is formally appointed as garda commissioner.

2014 summary: Another hectic year. The rumours about McCabe are still flying about, and a further three people say that Martin Callinan directly smeared him to them. Facing a number of swirling controversies, Callinan is gone by March. Taylor doesn’t last much longer in the press office as he’s “moved sideways” into the traffic corps.At the same time, Paul Williams gets articles published in the Irish Independent about Ms D. And, at the same time again, the error that was made by Brophy is identified but not fully fixed. It stays on file.


January/February: McCabe highlights again to Minister Fitzgerald the bad situation he finds himself in at work. “I see no change in anything,” he says. “The harassment under the present management has increased to a stage that I have to take forced annual leave.”

He meets with Nóirín O’Sullivan, who offers him supports to help him at work. An independent mediator is mooted to support McCabe.

February: The government sets up the O’Higgins Commission to look into the claims – stretching back many years at this stage – from McCabe.

From now onwards, the gardaí begin to gear up for the commission. The same legal counsel representing Nóirín O’Sullivan is acting on behalf of those whom McCabe has made serious claims about, including Callinan, Rooney and Clancy.

April: David Taylor is arrested, accused of leaking information to the press. At some stage after this, he visits the home of Martin Callinan, and it’s the former commissioner’s case that Taylor said he blamed Nóirín O’Sullivan and wanted to “bring her down”.

14 May: The O’Higgins Commission sits for its first day of hearings. At a very late stage in preparations, Nóirín O’Sullivan chooses to follow legal advice in how it will approach the commission, which includes challenging McCabe’s motivation and credibility.

15 May: An enormous row erupts at the commission.

Colm Smyth SC, for the gardaí, says his instructions were to challenge McCabe’s motivation and his credibility in mounting these allegations of corruption and malpractice.

Michael McDowell SC, for McCabe, calls Smyth’s tactics “childish and unworthy”.

9768 Disclosures Tribunal_90517710 Michael McDowell was robust in his defence of McCabe Source: Leah Farrell/Rollingnews.ie

Mr Justice O’Higgins asks if the position from the garda commissioner’s legal team is that McCabe was acting “not in good faith” in making allegations against gardaí because he was “motivated by malice or some such motive”. Smyth told the Tribunal he was instructed to challenge motivation but not integrity, and he clarified this later at the commission.

The commission is adjourned, and the legal position of the garda commissioner is to be clarified after that weekend. At the same time as this is going on, O’Sullivan rings officials at the Department of Justice and also the gardaí’s own legal advisor, making all of these parties aware of what is going on.

18 May: The commission reconvenes after the weekend, with the garda commissioner’s legal team coming back with an email detailing their instructions.

This email details factors on which counsel has been instructed to challenge McCabe’s motivation for making allegations.

It contains an erroneous claim that McCabe told Superintendent Noel Cunningham in that August 2008 meeting that he made complaints against Clancy only because he wanted the DPP directions from the D case. McDowell calls it “despicable”.

Judge O’Higgins opts to stick to the facts of each case, rather than McCabe’s motivation and the commission carries on.

4 August: A file is sent to the DPP, recommending Dave Taylor is prosecuted for unlawful disclosure of information. He is now suspended indefinitely from An Garda Síochána.

29 December: Tusla, compounding a number of errors over the past two years, have still not corrected the false allegation on McCabe’s file. Social work team leader Kay McLoughlin sends a letter to Maurice McCabe containing these false allegations of serious sexual abuse.

2015 summary: The main headline here is the O’Higgins Commission. At a time when Nóirín O’Sullivan was looking to support Maurice McCabe, she also gives the go-ahead to challenge his motivation for making his claims at the commission. At the same time, the downfall of David Taylor begins, and Tusla continues getting it wrong and failing to correct McCabe’s file.


5 January: McCabe receives the Tusla letter. When asked how he felt, McCabe said he felt “horrific, horrific”. He said: “This one was just incredible, to open a letter like that and to be accused of what I was accused of.” This is the very first time that McCabe becomes aware that this allegation had been mistakenly put on file against him.

28 January: McCabe’s solicitor replies to Tusla, calling the allegation of digital penetration “a new and entirely false” one and saying that it can be easily demonstrated that no such claim was ever made.

9 May: RTÉ’s Paul Reynolds appears in a series of broadcasts, reporting on leaked copies of the O’Higgins report. In it, he says the report notes McCabe acted out of “genuine and legitimate concerns” and is “due a debt of gratitude”. Reynolds also said McCabe was found to be “prone to exaggeration” and some of his claims were “unfounded”. McCabe complained to RTÉ about the report, saying it was “unbalanced”.

0934 Disclosures Tribunal_90546992 Paul Reynolds defended his reporting at the Tribunal Source: Leah Farrell/Rollingnews.ie

11 May: The government publishes the O’Higgins Commission report. It vindicates McCabe in a number of instances, but is critical of him in some quarters.

O’Higgins noted: “Some of the complaints have been upheld in this report, especially in respect of the quality of the investigations examined by this commission.”

The judge also noted that McCabe’s claims of corruption against senior officers were “hurtful” and “unfounded”. Clancy, in particular, is “exonerated of any wrongdoing and is the subject of only occasional and very mild criticism”.

17 May: An RTÉ Prime Time report publishes excerpts of transcripts from the privately-heard O’Higgins Commission. It includes the line from O’Higgins asking if it’s the case is McCabe was “motivated by malice” and Smyth saying “that is the position”. Nóirín O’Sullivan faces calls to resign, but is backed by government.

26 May: John McGuinness tells the Dáil about the car park meeting with Martin Callinan. McGuinness also meets McCabe this month and tells him about what Callinan allegedly told him.

20 June: Tusla writes to McCabe and acknowledges that a mistake had been made and the sexual abuse allegation of that nature had not been made.

20 September: Maurice McCabe, who’s been in contact with the wife of David Taylor, visits the still-suspended superintendent at his home.

Taylor tells him about the alleged smear campaign. “I destroyed you,” is what McCabe said Taylor told him.

They differ on some of the details of what exactly was said. McCabe said Taylor told him he’d send hundreds of texts to journalists smearing him. Taylor told the Tribunal it was only ever done in person.

Before the end of the month, both men make protected disclosures over the alleged smear campaign against McCabe.

3 October: McCabe meets Clare Daly and Mick Wallace, and tells them what Taylor told him. The TDs decided to seek a meeting with Taylor straight away. As well as filling them in on the orchestrated campaign, the TDs said that Taylor told them he was facing “trumped up charges” in relation to the criminal allegation against him. Taylor denies saying this.

2016 summary: Another busy year. McCabe gets the Tusla letter containing the false allegations against him, and that sets the tone for a series of revelations put to him over the course of the year.He meets John McGuinness who tells him about what allegedly happened in that car park with Callinan. He also meets Dave Taylor, who tells him about the alleged smear campaign. With McCabe and Taylor making protected disclosures about the allegations, the pressure is kept on gardaí and the government to take action about McCabe’s complaints.


The groundswell of criticism for how McCabe’s case was handled leaves the government with no choice but to launch a full, public inquiry into the affair.

January: Documents released to McCabe under the Freedom of Information Act detail the litany of errors that led to these false allegations of sexual abuse, and the public focus on this causes a major scandal for the government after it is first reported in the Irish Examiner.

13 February: Taylor is reinstated to his position as superintendent in An Garda Síochána after being cleared of leaking information to the press.

14 February: The government announces that there will be a tribunal into the affair which will look to establish whether a smear campaign was running against Maurice McCabe. The tribunal will be chaired by Supreme Court judge Mr Justice Peter Charleton and will have three separate modules – the Tusla errors, the alleged smear campaign and the O’Higgins Commission. A separate module on Garda Keith Harrison is also set up.

July onwards: The Tribunal begins to hear evidence. In total, it will sit for nearly 100 days between July and June 2018. 

10 September: Nóirín O’Sullivan announces she is stepping down and resigning from An Garda Síochána.

November 2017: It emerges that Frances Fitzgerald was informed about the garda commissioner’s legal strategy at the O’Higgins Commission. A vote of no-confidence is tabled, with the potential to bring down the government. Fitzgerald resigns.

And with the public hearings now finished, Mr Justice Peter Charleton will now write his report. Today and tomorrow on TheJournal.ie, we will be publishing features on each of the four modules of the Tribunal with analysis of the key points and the decisions Judge Charleton will have to make as he dissects this whole saga.

About the author:

Sean Murray

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