Noel Cunningham Questioned at Disclosures Tribunal

By Patrick Brogan

“I never said a bad word to or about Maurice McCabe.”

Superintendent Noel Cunningham’s questioning was delayed by an hour in George’s Hall in Dublin Castle. As is routine, he started off by giving his experience within the Gardaí, approaching nearly four decades now.

When Ms D made the initial allegation of a sexual assault against Maurice McCabe to Sergeant James Fraher, it was Cunningham appointed to investigate. He was reluctant as he knew both McCabe and Mr D.

The tribunal heard how Cunningham was well respected in the force and had a solid record. Despite his initial reservations, he endeavoured to investigate with the utmost professionalism. He said he found it difficult to get to the bottom of what happened as there were inconsistencies in the allegations and even questioned the credibility of Ms D. He met Maurice McCabe who denied the allegations.

In his report of the investigation, Cunningham mentioned an incident when McCabe disciplined Mr D not long before these allegations arose. He felt this was important and pertinent to his investigation.

Cunningham’s response to the DPP‘s directions was severely questioned. He didn’t inform the D family nor McCabe until three weeks after the letter had been sent. Cunningham explained that this was due to the nature of his job and how he could be separated from his regular station, Monaghan, for weeks at a time and was in fact in Bailieborough where McCabe was stationed at this time and never seen the letter. He said he acted immediately after reading the letter and informed the D family at their home and rang Maurice McCabe straight after.

He left a message on McCabe’s phone. He later got a voice mail from Maurice McCabe saying that for legal reasons he would rather meet him somewhere other than the Garda station. They met in a hotel where McCabe had brought a member of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI). He felt McCabe was taking a stance against him and that McCabe had been uncooperative, something he said was the wrong choice of words. Before Cunningham contacted him, McCabe had found out informally he was cleared of the charges.

This led to a deterioration of relations between the two men. Cunningham said he felt McCabe had an issue with him. Noel Cunningham said their relationship had been very good up to this point and that they had worked very closely together when in Clones. He said he had never had a complaint against him before this, but a number of them came his way after the investigation and he felt McCabe had some input in this, all of which he was cleared of. He said he didn’t feel the same way and bore McCabe no ill will.

There was also an issue about a letter sent to Cunningham that he never answered. The letter informed him the health service was looking for information regarding the 2007 investigation as they had received a recent referral. This letter arrived at a time when he was on annual leave. He said he must have read the letter but filed it away as there was no sense of urgency and then forgot it. He said he put this into a file containing the information about the investigation.

Cunningham felt this was not a big deal as the HSE would have had access to the report, where they got his contact details, but he did not want to hand over his files when a sergeant was investigating it. It was also mentioned how Maurice McCabe had recorded one of their conversations, unbeknownst to Noel Cunningham.

 

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