Interviewed by RTE’s Katie Hannon, Deputy Deasy, who, in 2014, was a member of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), revealed that this meeting took place prior to the appearance of then Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan before the PAC.
“Before the meeting, I was approached by a very senior Guard and he proceeded to make some very derogatory comments about Maurice McCabe, the nature of which were that Maurice McCabe couldn’t be believed and couldn’t be trusted on anything – they were very derogatory. It was a serious attack and very strongly worded. Maurice McCabe was in the Public Accounts Committee the following Thursday and I thought that he was very credible and I made that judgement.”
Deputy Deasy told Katie Hannon (Prime Time) that he “formulated a view that (Sgt McCabe) was correct; I think I and others realised that there was a campaign against Maurice McCabe, to undermine his character.”
When asked whom he felt this campaign was being run by, Deputy Deasy replied: “The Gardaí”. Was this at a senior level, Ms Hannon asked? “Yeah,” Deputy Deasy contended.
“And I’d first hand contact of that, we’ll say.”
A “couple of weeks later,” Deputy Deasy met with Taoiseach Enda Kenny at Government Buildings “on a separate issue”, after which he asked to meet privately with Mr Kenny to discuss “Maurice McCabe and the entire affair”.
At that meeting, John Deasy told the Taoiseach that he believed that “Maurice McCabe would be vindicated, that (Sgt McCabe) was being treated very badly, that he was genuine and that this needed to be handled completely different. He (the Taoiseach) listened, he acknowledged it, and the meeting ended.
“I do know at the time that another individual in Fine Gael was making a similar case to one of his cabinet colleagues…and was being ignored, really wasn’t getting anywhere and was being dismissed with regard to how the whistleblowers were being dealt with at the time and the treatment that was being meted out to them.”
When asked by Katie Hannon if the campaign waged against Sgt McCabe at the time had led to mud sticking against him within political circles, John Deasy stated: “Massively. I think the campaign against Maurice McCabe was extremely effective in hardening opinions with regard to his character, and I think that’s what we were coming up against. It was only when the Inspectorate Report came out later that month, and confirmed pretty much everything he had been saying – or at least the basic premise of it – when Leo Varadkar made his public assertion that their actions were distinguished (that) things began to change.”
Deputy Deasy said that Sgt McCabe was “very badly treated, not just by the political system but also by his colleagues, in my opinion”.
Responding to Ms Hannon’s querying if Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald’s public support for whistleblowers stood up to real-time scrutiny, Deputy Deasy replied: “I’m not going to single out Frances Fitzgerald in this instance. A lot of things we’re dealing today when it comes to Maurice McCabe preceded her tenure in the Department of Justice…I really can’t defend anyone in government when it comes to Maurice McCabe.”
The Prime Time report stressed that the senior, un-named Garda who spoke to Deputy Deasy was not current Garda Commissioner, Nóirín O’Sullivan.
Meanwhile, Deputy Deasy confirmed to RTE that he was not aligned to any potential Fine Gael leadership candidate.