Crime Correspondent Paul Reynolds examines what the O’Higgins Report says about garda whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe.

Sgt McCabe is described as "the central figure in the investigation." The report says he acted out of "genuine and legitimate concerns, showed courage, and performed a public service at considerable personal cost and the commission believes he is due the gratitude of the general public and also An Garda Síochána."

It said he was "a dedicated and committed member" of An Garda Síochána, but "prone to exaggeration", and while some of his complaints were upheld, others were proven to be "overstated", "exaggerated", "unfounded” and ultimately "withdrawn".

Allegations against Callinan 'unfounded' - Report


Sgt Mc Cabe withdrew some allegations - but he didn’t withdraw an allegation of corruption against former garda commissioner Martin Callinan.

The commission says Sgt McCabe accused the former garda commissioner of corruption. It also says "It is submitted on behalf of Sgt McCabe that he didn’t intend to make allegations of corruption”.

Sgt McCabe told the commission he was “guarded” in his complaints against the commissioner but the report says “this does not alter the fact that a complaint of corruption existed”.

It also says “he did not withdraw the allegation against the commissioner despite being invited to do so”.

It says “the former commissioner is vindicated”.

Does the report indicate why Sgt McCabe wrongly accused the commissioner of corruption?

It says Sgt McCabe accused Mr Callinan of promoting Superintendent Michael Clancy to chief Supt –now the Chief Supt in Sligo.

Sgt Mc Cabe made numerous allegations against Supt Clancy in the report, none of which were upheld.

The commission says Sgt Mc Cabe made the allegation of corruption against the former commissioner “undoubtedly to have his complaint examined by the minister.”

However, the commission found “The former Commissioner was not responsible for placing Supt Clancy on the promotion list”, that any aspersions on Mr Callinan’s integrity ”were unfounded and deeply hurtful” and that the former Commissioner is “entitled to have his reputation vindicated.”

It also said “It must be stated clearly and ambiguously there is not a scintilla of evidence to support an allegation of any type of corruption against the former commissioner”. 

The cases examined in the O'Higgins Report

What does the report say about allegations the Sgt made against other senior officers?

There are a number of allegations against other senior officers outlined in the commission’s report.

On Assistant Commissioner Derek Byrne who was accused by Sergeant Maurice McCabe of malpractice and corruption in relation to PULSE records seized from Sgt McCabe on 11 October 2010 at the Hillgrove Hotel, Monaghan, the report says "Sergeant Mc Cabe withdrew all allegations of impropriety of any type against Assistant Commissioner Derek Byrne."

The Commission describes him as "a man of integrity and a highly competent member of An Garda Síochana, committed to the good of the force".

"The commission is absolutely satisfied that the public can repose trust in him in the exercise of his duties”.

On Chief Superintendent Terry McGinn, who originally investigated Sgt McCabe’s allegations, the commission says she treated him with “experience, kindness and sensitivity”.

Supt Michael Clancy was the district officer in Bailieboro at the time Sgt McCabe was unhappy with all the investigations. He was also the officer whose promotion was a factor, the commission says, in Sgt McCabe wrongly accusing the former commissioner of corruption.

In the Commission report it states at least 19 times - that Sgt McCabe’s complaints against Supt Clancy were - “inaccurate” “unreasonable” “incorrect” “manifestly unfounded” and “not supported by the facts”.

For example, claims that “Supt Clancy he showed no interest at all in the case” “refused to hold a conference” “three times” were found by the commission to be without foundation. It found Supt Clancy “did not refuse on any occasion, still less three times.”

“At the commission... he withdrew his complaint on this matter – no doubt welcome, late though it was.”

The superintendent, the commission said , “should not have had to answer for accusations founded on Sgt McCabe’s lack of knowledge”.

Sgt McCabe also made allegations against his immediate superior Inspector Noel Cunningham – who is now a superintendent. These were also dismissed/categorised as “unjustified criticism” which the report also says undoubtedly caused the officer “worry and stress”.

What does it say about former minister for justice Alan Shatter?

On Alan Shatter, the former minister for justice who was forced to resign following the Guerin report which accused him of not heeding Sgt McCabe’s complaints.

However, this commission, which the Guerin report recommended be established and whose terms of reference are based on the Guerin report, says Mr Shatter took the allegations of garda whistleblowers very seriously and his actions were “entirely reasonable and appropriate”.
It says he sought a report from the commissioner when he received the allegations of corruption against the commissioner but in doing so “He was not asking the commissioner to investigate himself.”

“The exchanges between the Department of Justice, the former minister for justice and the former commissioner during the handling of Sgt McCabe’s complaints were at all times professional and appropriate.”

What does it say about the allegations Sgt McCabe made in the Dossier which Micheál Martin and Taoiseach Enda Kenny received?

The report also highlights other inaccuracies and exaggerations made by Sgt McCabe in the dossier received by Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin and Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

In the dossier given to Mr Martin, Sgt McCabe claimed two gardaí “laughed and ridiculed” a crime victim. The commission said this “assertion is not borne out”. It found other allegations in the dossier to be “incorrect” and “inaccurate” and it rejected his claim that he requested help "to sanction the gardaí involved".

In the Caffola case, Sgt Mc Cabe was involved and is given “credit” for having “the prescience to have summonses applied for in anticipation of the possibility that the directions of the DPP might be late”.  Three people were subsequently convicted.

But in the dossier given to Mr Martin, Sgt McCabe complained that “no file was ever sent to the DPP and no investigation was ever done”. The commission found that it was “incorrect to state that no investigation was ever done.”

The Commission says that in the dossier the Taoiseach received in February 2014, Sgt McCabe alleged a garda superintendent had full details of two serious incidents in the Jerry McGrath case “but did nothing”. These complaints were dismissed – in one there was “no evidence to substantiate this complaint”.

Were there differences in the nature of Sgt McCabe’s original complaints and those forwarded to the confidential recipient?

There were also significant differences in the nature of the sergeant’s complaints when he first made them – and when they were sent to the Confidential Recipient.

We heard this morning about the alleged assault which Sgt McCabe categorised as a rape and the public order incident which he categorised as an attempt to poison a father and son. There is also another incident of this cited in the report.

When Sgt McCabe first complained about the investigation of one of the assault cases in 2007 – he said that "defects were discovered" in the investigation which he said could only be because of "one of two things – neglect of duty or inexperience".

However, when five years later he wrote to the confidential recipient, in January 2012, he included new and more serious allegations. He said gardaí had committed crimes.

He claimed “serious matters were reported” in writing, involving a case of “assault causing actual harm with serious injuries” where “potential witnesses were never interviewed” and there was “criminal conduct by gardaí in the investigation.”

The commission however was “satisfied there was no evidence of crime” and the “allegation of criminality was withdrawn”.

The report also says that Sgt McCabe “had reason to believe he was being set up” but that this was “unproven”.