A current and former Garda commissioner have been called on to clarify what stories were spread about whistle-blower Sergeant Maurice McCabe.
John McGuinness, former chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), demanded explanations after revealing ex-police chief Martin Callinan invited him to a hotel car park in January 2014 to discuss the officer.
He used Dail privilege last week to claim the retired commissioner told him Sgt McCabe was not to be trusted and there were serious issues about him.
Mr McGuinness described stories being peddled by senior members of the force about the respected whistle-blower as “vile” and “appalling” and designed to discredit him.
“I wasn’t aware of the purpose of the meeting. I expected that it would have been about the Public Accounts Committee and its work. I expected that it would be about Maurice McCabe and the evidence that was to be given. I was willing to listen to what had to be said,” the Fianna Fail TD said.
“I was taken aback by the nature of the conversation and the detail that was given.”
Mr McGuinness told RTE’s This Week that the retired commissioner rang seeking to meet off the Naas Road in the days before Sgt McCabe was to give evidence to the PAC in private about the wiping of penalty points.
The meeting lasted 20-30 minutes, he said.
Mr McGuinness revealed he had heard the allegations about Sgt McCabe before and had also received explanations from the whistle-blower about them.
He said questions must be answered over which senior gardai were aware of attempts to discredit the officer who has since been vindicated by the O’Higgins Commission for exposing bad policing in the Cavan-Monaghan district.
Mr McGuinness said he wanted it made public which senior gardai knew of efforts to stop Sgt McCabe giving evidence to the PAC.
“These are legitimate questions now in the light of the fact that everyone is suggesting that Maurice McCabe is right and vindicated,” Mr McGuinness said.
On the current Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan, the Carlow-Kilkenny TD said: “I can’t express confidence because the jury is out on that.
“Until such time as all of the current issues are clarified I believe that no-one can express confidence in the Commissioner.”
Mr McGuinness insisted he was clear on the time and content of the meeting with former commissioner Mr Callinan.
“Martin Callinan is now retired. I believe a full statement in relation to the efforts made by the Garda Siochana to discredit Sgt Maurice McCabe, that a statement should be made by the current Commissioner in relation to what was known at that time about the efforts that were made and who was involved. I think that that is essential,” he said.
Mr McGuinness said Mr Callinan should clarify why he met him in a hotel car park.
He also said he believed that if he had revealed the meeting at the time it may have jeopardised Sgt McCabe’s evidence to the PAC.
The O’Higgins Commission found the vast majority of Sgt McCabe’s claims of negligence and malpractice were proven. It said he was a man of integrity who should be thanked for his whistle-blowing.
Since its report Commissioner O’Sullivan has been under deepening pressure over allegations that a lawyer for the force claimed during hearings in the inquiry that he was instructed to attack Sgt McCabe’s integrity.
The police chief is to be grilled in public by the Police Authority twice next month over the controversy.
A Garda memo from 2011 following an internal inquiry into Sgt McCabe’s allegations by Assistant Commissioner Derek Byrne said there was no systemic failures in the management and administration of policing in Bailieborough or any criminal conduct.