Maurice McCabe has ‘no plans yet’ for the future following retirement

Garda whistleblower to meet Minister for Justice on Friday after leaving the force

File photograph of Sgt Maurice McCabe outside  Leinster House. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

File photograph of Sgt Maurice McCabe outside Leinster House. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

 

Sgt Maurice McCabe has said he has “no plans yet at all” for his future following the announcement that he would retire from An Garda Síochána at midnight on Thursday.

The Garda whistleblower said he made the decision to retire following the publication in mid-October of the Disclosures Tribunal report on the investigation into an alleged smear campaign against him.

The report by Mr Justice Peter Charleton praised the whistleblower for his role in bringing to light failings in the force.

“After the report we discussed it with the family and decided it was the best thing to do,” Sgt McCabe told The Irish Times on Wednesday in relation to his retirement.

Sgt McCabe said he is to meet Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan on Friday but would not comment on what the pair planned to discuss.

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris met Sgt McCabe and his wife Lorraine at their home in Co Cavan last week, where he apologised to the whistleblower on behalf of the force.

Sgt McCabe said he was “very impressed” with Mr Harris during the meeting. “I think he is going to be someone that will change the culture of the gardaí forever,” Sgt McCabe added.

He retires after 30 years’ service, and had given his retirement notice to Assistant Garda Commissioner Fintan Fanning over the weekend.

Exonerated

The tribunal report found Sgt McCabe had acted in the public interest and had done the State a service in raising the issues that he did.

It found former Garda commissioner Martin Callinan and David Taylor, former head of the Garda Press Office, had engaged in a “campaign of calumny” against Sgt McCabe.

Political controversies over how the Garda responded to Sgt McCabe forced the resignation of Frances Fitzgerald as minister for justice, and contributed to the resignation of former Garda commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan.

However, both were exonerated by Mr Justice Peter Charleton in the tribunal’s findings.

When asked if he felt Ms O’Sullivan or Ms Fitzgerald had been forced to resign from their posts unfairly, given the tribunal’s findings, Sgt McCabe said: “I can’t comment on anything like that.”

Mr Flanagan said on Wednesday that Sgt McCabe had left a “legacy” within the force, and had brought “serious failings” into the open. As a result, gardaí had been given “a huge opportunity to transform”, he added.

Courage

“I am very conscious that Sgt McCabe and his family suffered greatly as a consequence of his courage. They have shown incredible resilience in appalling circumstances.”

Mr Flanagan said the “crystal clear vindication” of Sgt McCabe in the tribunal report was a “great relief” to him and his family.

“To have his actions recognised after such a prolonged period undoubtedly lifted a great weight from his shoulders,” he said.

Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy said he was “surprised” to hear Sgt McCabe was retiring. Sgt McCabe had done Irish society a huge service, “to help reform the Garda Síochána itself, to ask difficult questions of those in power, and to shine a light into an area of Irish life that needed a light shone upon it”, he said.

Labour leader Brendan Howlin also paid tribute to the work of Sgt McCabe, stating he had served the public with a commitment that “never wavered in the face of personal cost”.

Fianna Fáil justice spokesman Jim O’Callaghan thanked Sgt McCabe for “all his years of service” and wished him “many happy years in retirement”.

In a statement, the Garda Press Office said Mr Harris “has wished Sgt Maurice McCabe and his family well in his retirement, and told him previously that he had done a great service to An Garda Síochána and policing in Ireland”.