'Horrific', 'destroyed me', 'bury him': An emotional Maurice McCabe gives his side of the story

Growing visibly upset at times, McCabe gave his account of the alleged smear campaign against him at the Tribunal yesterday.

“AND WHAT DID Mr McGuinness say to you?”

Maurice McCabe starts to answer and then stops himself. He puts his hand to head, growing visibly upset. There is a long pause.

The Disclosures Tribunal chairman Mr Justice Peter Charleton says it was probably best to adjourn for a few minutes.

When proceedings restart, McCabe says what John McGuinness had told him then-garda commissioner Martin Callinan had said to him at a meeting in a car park in 2014:

[Callinan] said I wasn’t to be trusted. He said that I sexually abused my own children and my nieces.

McCabe would go on to say that he was told by former garda press officer David Taylor that he had been “destroyed” because of orders from Callinan – although these are claims that Callinan himself denies, and aspects of Taylor’s account do differ from McCabe’s. Indeed, in a number of ways his account will be contradicted by Callinan and O’Sullivan in particular who will say they had no part in any smear campaign against him.

Nevertheless, this was the man who almost brought down the government. A man who highlighted what he saw as deficiencies in An Garda Síochana, and says he was vilified for it.

Yesterday – after over 50 days of witnesses – he got to have his own say at the Disclosures Tribunal.

Long saga

The questioning of McCabe yesterday went chronologically. The Tribunal heard about how he first became a garda in 1985, before becoming a sergeant in 2000 and serving at Bailieboro in Cavan at that rank from 2004.

Around 2006-7, two important things happened: McCabe began to highlight what he saw as inadequacies in garda investigations and behaviour, and an allegation of sexual assault was made against him by the daughter of a colleague (Ms D).

Despite raising issues such as gardaí not turning up on time, if at all, and flaws in how investigations were done, McCabe felt he wasn’t supported by his superior officer.

“All I wanted was help,” he told Superintendent Clancy in February 2008. “I can’t run the station unless I had the support of the superintendent. I had to bring these serious issues up to you… I was completely victimised as a result.”

McCabe would go on to step down as sergeant in Bailieboro, describing it as a case of constructive dismissal.

That allegation of sexual assault meanwhile was investigated and found to be without basis, and a direction was made not to prosecute. However, after a series of angry confrontations with the D family, McCabe wrote to his superior officer making a case for the D family to be given the full DPP directions as to why there’d be no prosecution.

Years later, at a commission that investigated these separate complaints that McCabe had made about garda conduct in the division, he was challenged for making these complaints at all, on the basis that he was denied this request.

Furthermore, McCabe would also go on to highlight deficiencies in the penalty points system – whereby fixed charge notices were cancelled - becoming the very public face of garda whistleblowing in the process when he appeared before the Public Accounts Committee in early 2014.

Just prior to his appearance at the PAC, Martin Callinan gave evidence to TDs too. He described the allegations from whistleblowers as “disgusting”.

According to McCabe, this comment was an example of an attitude that he commonly faced after making allegations of misconduct within the force.

After the “disgusting” comment, McCabe said it was “extremely hard to take”.

He told the Tribunal:

If I was to do it over again, I would have never have highlighted the penalty points. It was at that stage I started to get all the hassle… I think after that comment the floodgates were opened.

The crucial meetings

It is apparent that a number of events would lead McCabe to believe that he was being victimised by the most senior of gardaí, and that these events went beyond poor behaviour from management and colleagues at local level.

In the spring of 2014, a number of articles written by journalist Paul Williams were published, based on interviews with Ms D. McCabe said that he knew “exactly who it was pointing at”.

By 2015, he said he “didn’t care who was blanking me, who was parking next to me, who was shouting out the window at me”.

McCabe went into the O’Higgins Commission in May 2015 – an investigation that looked at his original 2007-8 complaints in Cavan-Monaghan – and found his motivation and credibility immediately under attack by counsel for then-commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan.

This came at the same time that Nóirín O’Sullivan was offering supports to the whistleblower.

He told the Tribunal: “You can see I was being blamed for everything on the transcripts. I was getting all the hard questions [at the O'Higgins Commission].”

In all the other modules they were kinda saying ‘Maurice, it’s your fault’. It was hard – every single month I had to be on the ball. When I would try and defend myself I’d be criticised.

A number of events in 2016, then, would deepen his perception that there was some kind of concerted campaign against him.

Firstly, he received a letter from Tusla at the very beginning of the year. It contained details of a far more serious allegation than what Ms D had originally alleged – the Tribunal has already heard this arose because of an error from a counsellor.

Speaking about receiving this letter, McCabe said: “I felt horrific. In relation to the Ms D, it was a life-changing matter but this one was just incredible.

To be accused of what I was accused of. I didn’t know what to do that night.

On 9 May 2016, an RTÉ broadcast based on a leak of the O’Higgins report was made. McCabe said in a protected disclosure that he had no doubt the broadcast was orchestrated by Nóirín O’Sullivan.

He then met Fianna Fáil TD John McGuinness for coffee at a Dublin hotel later that month. He was asked what McGuinness told him.

It was at this point that McCabe became upset and matters were adjourned.

When he came back he would go on to describe what he heard Callinan said in that car park meeting, and how it made him feel.

McCabe described driving home that night but not even sure which route he was taking, such was his shock at hearing an allegation that the head of the national police force had accused him of sexually abusing his own children.

“I didn’t say anything till I got home and told Lorraine,” he said. “I was unsure of what to do.”

He went on to describe how – coupling what McGuinness had told him with the letter he had been sent by Tusla – he sought to find out who had started spreading these rumours about him.

Through the intermediary of Irish Examiner journalist Mick Clifford, McCabe was put in contact with former garda press officer David Taylor, who was suspended from duty at the time.

After initially meeting Taylor’s wife a number of times, McCabe visited their home and spoke to both of them on 20 September 2016.

‘I destroyed you’ 

It was over the course of this three-hour conversation that McCabe says Taylor laid bare an orchestrated smear campaign against him.

He told the Tribunal an apologetic Taylor very frankly told him “I destroyed you”, and detailed how he did so on the orders of Martin Callinan, along with the full knowledge of Nóirín O’Sullivan.

McCabe said Taylor outlined how he would be sent messages by Callinan which he then forwarded on to members of the press, other senior gardaí and politicians.

“He [Taylor] then started to explain to me a few things,” McCabe said. “An Garda Síochána were obsessed with me.

If there was an article praising me, Callinan would say ‘use your phone, do him down, he has to be buried’.

McCabe said Taylor said he would be encouraged to say that McCabe had been investigated for sexual assault.

He said he asked Taylor how many messages he had sent, and that the reply had been “hundreds”, but possibly “thousands”.

Taylor’s wife Michelle is said to have told McCabe that they “believed all of the allegations we heard about you”.

As for Nóirín O’Sullivan, McCabe said he was told that she was kept abreast of every development and was known as the “pusher” in this scenario. McCabe also said that Taylor asked for his forgiveness for spreading all of these messages about him, and McCabe said that he had forgiven him.

McCabe told the Disclosures Tribunal that he is prepared to stand over every aspect of this meeting with Taylor.

This is despite both Callinan and O’Sullivan denying that they orchestrated or had any involvement in such a campaign, and a number of inconsistencies between his account and Taylor’s. In the case of Taylor, he has specifically said that he never sent any negative texts about McCabe to journalists and conveyed it all verbally.

Future evidence may contradict his account, but Maurice McCabe got to tell his side of a story that has been in the public eye for almost half a decade yesterday.

He told a story of a state body systematically “going after” him over a number of years. He told of the pain that had been visited upon him and his family, but also of the support he received in many quarters, specifically from his colleagues when he moved to Mullingar.

Maurice McCabe feels that many of his concerns weren’t listened to over many years.

Yesterday, the whole country was listening.

Read: Tribunal hears claim that Martin Callinan told TD that Maurice McCabe ‘sexually abused his own children’

Read: We’ll finally get to hear from Maurice McCabe at the Tribunal tomorrow – but what will he be asked?