Garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe : ‘There’s more accountability now’

Lorraine McCabe says everything today was ‘wonderful’ but family had gone through ‘ten years of hell’

‘I on’t think anything nowadays is going to fall through the cracks,’ Maurice McCabe said .Photograph: Cyril Byrne

‘I on’t think anything nowadays is going to fall through the cracks,’ Maurice McCabe said .Photograph: Cyril Byrne

 

Mark Hilliard

After his ten year struggle to raise concerns about An Garda Síochána, whistleblower Maurice McCabe has said he is finally confident past problems are unlikely to occur again.

The former sergeant had attempted to draw attention to penalty points abuses within the force and other investigative issues but came under intense pressure from colleagues.

Today, however, he believes the correct oversight is in place and that things will no longer “fall through the cracks”.

Now retired, Mr McCabe and his wife Lorraine gave a detailed interview to Ivan Yates’ Hard Shoulder show on Newstalk Radio about the fallout from their battle against the State and where they think things stand today.

The controversy surrounding Mr McCabe’s claims and the handling of them engulfed An Garda Siochana and the government.

“I think there’s more accountability now,” Mr McCabe reflected, noting in particular a diminished opportunity for senior gardaí to terminate traffic offences.

“I think the oversight is in now at the moment… every rank now is inspected and every rank has to go through each incident. There are daily accountability meetings, there are weekly accountability meetings and I don’t think anything nowadays is going to fall through the cracks. The systems are now in place.”

Lorraine McCabe also said that while everything today was “wonderful”, the family had gone through “ten years of hell”.

Her husband had been based at Bailieborough, Co Cavan, when he became concerned about the force’s handling of suspected criminal offences in 2007, including the handling of penalty points.

His allegations and the subsequent handling of them by authorities became a central focus of both the O’Higgins Commission and the Charleton Tribunal.

At one point the whistleblower and his family had 11 sets of High Court proceedings in train arising out of a controversial number of events including the creation within Tusla, the child and family agency, of a file containing completely false allegations of serious sex abuse of a third party. Mr McCabe later settled with Tusla and the State.

“The kids are good,” Ms McCabe told Newstalk of their life today. “I would have always said they were good and weren’t harmed or hurt but since it has finished, they’ve told us things that happened to them or were said to them… we didn’t know that was going on,” she said.

Her husband also said that while he attempted to give up mild medication he had been put on for a decade, he later had to rely on it again.

“After the Charleton report (examining the Tusla file and false allegation) and after our settlement, I said I’m going to completely wean off that… within one month I had to go back on it. I couldn’t cope.”

Now working part time since retiring from the force, Mr McCabe also set out the abuse he received at the hands of colleagues after he had attempted to raise concerns.

It included “shocking” messages posted online, one with 11 photographs of a plastic rat.

“Under the photographs they had ‘Maurice’, and then the words ‘cheese eating rat b******’,” he said.

The media’s handling of his case also caused anguish - Ms McCabe said an internal alarm would awaken her early in the morning to see what was being written in the newspapers and that while some journalists were to be praised, the media “was a terrible threat”.

When it came to appearing before the Public Accounts Committee to present his allegations, Mr McCabe recalled how he feared what it would mean for him given he was still a serving garda.

“I thought if I did give evidence I would be disciplined,” he said. “I had to ask my chief superintendent ‘will I be disciplined?’... he came back that evening and said no.”