Maurice McCabe settles High Court actions against State and Tusla

Settlement includes dropping of proceedings against former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan

Former Garda sergeant Maurice McCabe and his family have settled High Court proceedings they took against the State and the child and family agency, Tusla, for an undisclosed sum.

It is understood mediation talks between the sides took place over recent days, leading to a confidential settlement. The settlement includes the dropping of proceedings Mr McCabe, who retired last year, took against former Garda Commissioner, Martin Callinan.

Mr McCabe said he did not want to comment when contacted by The Irish Times.

A spokeswoman for Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan, said he and the Government’s clear wish was to ensure that the legal actions initiated by Mr McCabe against the State were settled as quickly as possible to the satisfaction of Mr McCabe, without the need for litigation before the courts.


“An agreed settlement of these legal actions has now been reached through mediation. The settlement agreement is confidential and no further comment will be made in that regard.”

The whistleblower and his family had a total of 11 sets of High Court proceedings in train arising out of a controversial number of events including the creation within Tusla of a file containing completely false allegations of serious sex abuse of a third party.

The creation of the false allegation, which led to Tusla opening files on the McCabe family, was investigated by the Charleton Tribunal, which found there was no collusion between the State agency and the Garda authorities aimed at discrediting the whistleblower.

The false allegation had arisen by way of a cut-and-paste error by a counsellor, the tribunal found.

The proceedings taken by Mr McCabe also included a claim for alleged bullying dating back to his time as a sergeant in Bailieboro, Co Cavan, as well as a claim alleging defamation in an internal letter posted in Garda stations in the area to do with an inquiry into matters raised by the then sergeant. There was also an action relating to Mr Callinan.

All proceeding are now dropped. The settlement marks the end of a saga that convulsed the Garda and political life in the State over a period of years, led to a slew of resignations and early retirements, and to the creation of a Commission of Investigation and a tribunal of inquiry.

The tribunal investigated allegations that the then commissioner Mr Callinan, and the then head of the Garda Press Office Supt Dave Taylor (now retired), were involved in a smear campaign against the former sergeant.

Tribunal chairman Mr Justice Peter Charleton found there had been a “campaign of calumny” against Mr McCabe by Mr Callinan and he was actively aided by Mr Taylor.

“The tribunal is convinced that [MR TAYLOR]pursued a scheme that somehow evolved out of his cheek-by-jowl working relationship with commissioner Callinan,” Mr Justice Charleton found.

The tribunal heard evidence from a number of parties of a smear campaign against Mr McCabe around the time of the sergeant’s controversial appearance before the Dáil Committee on Public Accounts in 2014. Mr Callinan was at the time strongly opposed to Mr McCabe being called before the committee.

The tribunal found there was “no credible evidence that [former Garda commissioner] Nóirín O’Sullivan played any hand act or part in any campaign conducted by” Mr Callinan and Mr Taylor.

The tribunal found that while the mistake on the Tusla file was later corrected, this correction was never passed on to Garda Headquarters. The false report against Mr McCabe had an afterlife in the Garda because of the “astounding inefficiency” of Tusla to notice and correct the mistake at an early stage.

The tribunal rejected other claims that it investigated, including a claim by Mr McCabe that Ms O’Sullivan had instructed her legal team to use false claims against Mr McCabe during the confidential hearings of the O’Higgins Commission, which investigated allegations of improper policing and other matters, made by Mr McCabe.

It also rejected a claim by Mr McCabe that RTÉ crime correspondent, Paul Reynolds, had been influenced by Garda HQ and/or Ms O’Sullivan, when he reported on the findings of the O’Higgins Commission prior to the publication of its final report.

Likewise, the tribunal rejected a claim that there had been an intention on the part of senior Garda officers to accuse Mr McCabe of improper conduct during the commission hearings.

Colm Keena

Colm Keena

Colm Keena is an Irish Times journalist. He was previously legal-affairs correspondent and public-affairs correspondent