Republic of Ireland news

Ex-Garda press officer denies wanting 'revenge' on Noirin O'Sullivan

Former Garda Press Chief David Taylor arrives at the Disclosures Tribunal at Dublin Castle at Dublin Castle yesterday. Picture by Niall Carson, Press Association
Eleanor Barlow, Press Association

A former Garda press officer who claims he was ordered to run a smear campaign against a whistleblower has denied that he wanted to "bring down" the force's commissioner.

Superintendent David Taylor, who worked for the press office between 2012 and 2014, has claimed he was ordered by then commissioner Martin Callinan to negatively brief journalists about whistleblower Sergeant Maurice McCabe and that deputy commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan was aware of the campaign.

Giving evidence to the Disclosures Tribunal at Dublin Castle for a fourth day on Thursday, Mr Taylor denied that he had made up his account after being arrested as part of an investigation into leaks to the media.

Micheal O'Higgins SC, representing the former commissioners, said Mr Callinan recalled Mr Taylor visiting him at home after his arrest.

Mr Taylor denied that he was "agitated" and "giving out" when he saw Mr Callinan, who had then retired and been replaced by Ms O'Sullivan.

Mr O'Higgins said: "His clear recollection is that you were blaming the commissioner for your arrest and you said you would bring her down, bring Noirin O'Sullivan down, because of what she had done to you.

Mr Taylor replied: "Absolutely not. I wouldn't say such a thing about his closest colleague."

Mr O'Higgins suggested his account of the smear campaign was a "load of lies" and there was no direct evidence to support it.

He said: "You had become fixated upon Noirin O'Sullivan and her husband, in particular, and you came up with a plan to exact revenge for what you felt had been done to you. You came up with a plan to shield yourself from the criminal and disciplinary proceedings you were facing."

The tribunal is expected to hear from Mr Callinan and former minister for justice Alan Shatter later on Thursday.

Mr Taylor has told the tribunal that Mr Callinan said Sgt McCabe's allegations about gardaí quashing penalty points were motivated by maliciousness because he had been investigated over a sexual offence allegation.

He claimed he was ordered to pass that information on to journalists.

Sgt McCabe's attempts to uncover malpractice within the Garda date back 10 years and have left a welter of controversies in their wake.

While his specific claims of bad policing have prompted a number of government-ordered inquiries, the most explosive aspect of the furore is how he was allegedly treated by senior gardaí in the decade after he first blew the whistle.

The scandal almost brought down Ireland's fragile minority gvovernment last year.

Mr Callinan and Ms O'Sullivan, who both retired amid criticism of their handling of the whistleblower controversy, deny Mr Taylor's claims.

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