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Nóirín O'Sullivan "was not aware" of secret meeting between former Garda Commissioner and PAC chairman

Fianna Fáil’s John McGuinness told the Dáil last week that he met with the former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan in a hotel car park two years ago.

pjimage (7) Source: Rollingnews.ie

Updated at 7.45pm 

THE GARDA COMMISSIONER has said that she was “not aware” of a meeting between former Commissioner Martin Callinan and Fianna Fáil TD John McGuinness two years ago.

Speaking last week in the Dáil, McGuinness said that in 2014, while he was chairman of the Dáil’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC), he met Callinan in a Bewley’s car park to talk about whistleblower Maurice McCabe.

Speaking in the Dáil last week, McGuinness claimed:

Every effort was made by those within the Garda Síochána at senior level to discredit Garda Maurice McCabe.The Garda Commissioner confided in me in a car park on the Naas Road that Garda McCabe was not to be trusted and there were serious issues about him.The vile stories that circulated about Garda McCabe, which were promoted by senior officers in the Garda, were absolutely appalling.

Addressing the claims from McGuinness this evening, a Garda spokesperson said that Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan “was not aware of any private meeting” between the two men.

The spokesperson reiterated earlier statements by O’Sullivan on the value of whistleblowers in the force and that the gardaí “were determined to learn from our experiences”.

“An Garda Síochána agrees that whistleblowers are part of the solution to the problems facing the service,” the spokesperson said.

The Commissioner has recently appointed a Protected Disclosures Manager and an appropriately trained dedicated team will be established to oversee all matters related to whistleblowers.

Calls for Callinan response

Earlier, Sinn Féin’s  Mary Lou McDonald called for the former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan to give an “immediate response” to the claims by McGuinness.

In his speech in the Dáil last week, McGuinness said that the “political establishment” was no help to McCabe and had “attempted to discredit him”.

“He had to bring forward various pieces of strong evidence to protect his integrity,” McGuinness said, referring to a taped recording McCabe had of a meeting between himself and two senior gardaí.

Every effort was made to ensure he would not appear before the Committee of Public Accounts.
Every effort was made to dampen down the strong evidence he put into the public domain, which he had to do to protect himself, to inform us about what was going on with penalty points and other issues.

Meeting in Bewley’s car park

Speaking on RTÉ’s News at One, Mary Lou McDonald, who was also a member of the Public Accounts Committee at the time, said she also was not aware of the meeting between the pair.

McDonald said she was conscious that there was “no appetite in the system” for Maurice McCabe to appear before the committee.

McGuinness today defended his decision to only reveal details about the meeting last Thursday.

He said he did not bring the matter forward at the time as it may have “scuppered” the Public Accounts Committee and the testimony of McCabe.

“I believe I was correct in doing it that way,” he said.

The former PAC chair said he has gone public with the information now as McCabe’s integrity continues to be questioned today.  

Culture within garda organisation

He said “serious questions remain” about the culture within An Garda Síochana and said whistleblowers continue to be “under siege”.

McDonald said she understood why McGuinness did not go public about the meeting before McCabe appeared before the committee.

She said she understood why he was “fearful of derailing of that process”.

“I think there was merit in that concern,” she said, adding it was “well-founded”.

It was extremely important to hear the testimony from Maurice McCabe.

However, she said McGuinness should have brought the information about the meeting to the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation.

McDonald said an “immediate response” from the former commissioner was now needed.

She also wants to know what the nature of the exchange was between the two, and asked what knowledge the current Commissioner O’Sullivan had of these matters.

-With reporting from Cormac Fitzgerald 

Read: PAC chairman reveals secret Bewley’s car park meeting with Garda commissioner>

Read: Their stories aren’t new, but you’re about to hear a lot more about these OTHER garda whistleblowers >

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