Tribunal blasts Garda Chief’s ‘repulsive’ lies

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Former Garda police Commissioner Martin Callinan led a whispering campaign of lies and defamation against police whistleblower Sergeant Maurice McCabe and then denied it under oath, according to the findings of a sworn tribunal of inquiry.

The findings of Justice Peter Charleton in the Disclosures Tribunal are not a surprise, but his stark conclusions have drawn new attention to the level of dysfunction at the highest levels of the 26 County justice system.

The tribunal found senior gardai orchestrated a smear campaign against Maurice McCabe by using false sex abuse claims about him. It found former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan was key to this “campaign of calumny” against Sergeant McCabe and was actively aided by his former press officer Superintendent David Taylor.

Sgt McCabe had accused the force of selectively quashing motoring offences, along other issues, and later made a complaint against Mr Callinan.

In response, Mr Callinan ‘repulsively denigrated’ Sgt McCabe to several prominent and powerful individuals, the tribunal found. These included John McGuinness TD, John Deasy TD, Comptroller and Auditor General Seamus McCarthy and television journalist Philip Boucher Hayes.

Mr Callinan directly told John McGuinness TD in a car park that Sgt McCabe had sexually abused his own children and another person. He described the father-of-five as a “kiddie fiddler”.

He made the smear after Sgt McCabe had been invited to give evidence before the Dublin parliament’s Public Accounts Committee, which Mr McGuinness chairs.

According to Justice Charleton, the former Garda Commissioner then lied under oath to the tribunal when he denied speaking about Sgt McCabe in derogatory terms.

In a tweet, Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald described the actions of Callinan as “disgusting” -- a reference to the word used by the disgraced former Commissioner to describe the actions of Sgt McCabe. “Shame on those who set out to destroy him,” she said.

“At the core of this is a man who was professionally vilified and whose personal name was blackened,” she added. “Maurice McCabe was targeted and this strategy emanated at the heart of Garda Siochana and that is a shocking finding.”

The judge meanwhile heaped praise on Sgt McCabe, who he said had “done the State considerable service” in bringing matters to the wider public.

“Notwithstanding everything that happened to him, he remains an officer of exemplary character and has shown himself in giving evidence to the tribunal as being a person of admirable fortitude,” he said.

Among a series of nuanced criticisms of the Gardai, Justice Charleton found that “respect for the truth” was low. That and the fact that Commissioner Callinan was found to have lied under oath could also have ramifications for the Special Criminal Court in Dublin. The judges in the non-jury court usually rely on little more than the word of a senior Garda to convict a citizen of IRA membership.

A committee which has been established to campaign for the abolition of the Special Courts, is expected to use the tribunal’s findings to demand they be scrapped. Campaign spokesperson Sean Doyle said: “We aim to build a mass campaign to Abolish the Special Courts. To this end we appeal to all democrats, trade unionists, human rights activists and other progressives to get involved in this campaign. Join us in taking a stand in defence of the rights of all Irish citizens. The campaign can be contacted on Facebook on the ‘Abolish the Special Courts’ page.”

Giving his reaction on RTE’s Primetime, Sgt McCabe said: “It has been nearly 12 years since this has began. I am delighted that it’s out. Myself, Lorraine and the kids are so thrilled it’s out because it means it’s finished for us now, all is over. I can return to my normal job.”

“I am very happy, for me, Lorraine, my kids and my extended family,” he added.

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