No­body poured poi­son in my ear over Garda whistle­blower, says Reynolds

Irish Independent - - News | Disclosures Tribunal - An­drew Phe­lan

RTÉ crime cor­re­spon­dent Paul Reynolds told the Dis­clo­sures Tri­bunal no­body was “pour­ing poi­son into his ear” about penalty points whistle­blower Mau­rice McCabe.

He also said Garda HQ had “ab­so­lutely no in­flu­ence” over him when he re­ported the find­ings of an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Garda fail­ings fol­low­ing com­plaints by Sgt McCabe.

Mr Reynolds de­nied that the cov­er­age of the re­port of the O’Hig­gins Com­mis­sion’s find­ings was “pro-Garda” and re­jected he had branded Sgt McCabe “a liar and ir­re­spon­si­ble”.

While he did use the word “lie” in his broad­casts about a ref­er­ence in the re­port to an “un­truth” by Sgt McCabe, he said: “I think a re­porter’s duty is to tell it like it is.”

Mr Reynolds also de­nied he was “neg­a­tively briefed” by for­mer Garda press of­fi­cer Supt Dave Tay­lor about Sgt McCabe.

The tri­bunal is in­ves­ti­gat­ing an al­leged smear cam­paign by se­nior gar­daí against Sgt McCabe.

One of the is­sues be­ing in­ves­ti­gated is whether the then Garda com­mis­sioner Nóirín O’Sul­li­van, us­ing brief­ing ma­te­rial pre­pared in Garda HQ, in­flu­enced or at­tempted to in­flu­ence May 9, 2016 RTÉ broad­casts in which “Sgt McCabe was branded a liar and ir­re­spon­si­ble”.

Record­ings of Mr Reynolds’s TV and ra­dio re­ports, as well as other RTÉ broad­casts about the O’Hig­gins Com­mis­sion re­port of 2016, were played to the tri­bunal yes­ter­day.

Mr Reynolds had ob­tained a copy of the com­mis­sion’s re­port be­fore it was pub­lished.

He said that while the broad­casts quoted the crit­i­cism of Sgt McCabe in the com­mis­sion’s re­port, they also re­peated pos­i­tive re­marks about him “ad nau­seam” so there could be no per­cep­tion that they were be­ing un­fair or un­bal­anced.

How­ever, Sgt McCabe sent RTÉ a solic­i­tors’ let­ter say­ing he had been “grossly de­famed”.

The let­ter said it ap­peared Mr Reynolds had taken a brief­ing from in­ter­ested par­ties, and this brief­ing was done “with a view to de­stroy­ing the rep­u­ta­tion of Sgt McCabe”.

The O’Hig­gins Com­mis­sion re­port found that Sgt McCabe had told an un­truth about a case, that he was aware it was an un­truth, and that he told it for a spe­cific rea­son and it was found to be un­ac­cept­able, Mr Reynolds said. “Be­cause of those four fac­tors I said it was a lie,” he said.

It was his de­ci­sion, and he was sup­ported at the high­est level in RTÉ, he added.

He had looked up the def­i­ni­tion of “un­truth” in two dic­tio­nar­ies. “I think a re­porter’s duty is to tell it like it is,” he added.

His own notes taken in the run-up to the broad­casts, shown to the tri­bunal, were “bits and bobs” and not the ba­sis for any­thing, he said.

Paul Reynolds at the tri­bunal in Dublin Cas­tle yes­ter­day. Photo: Gareth Chaney

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