McCabes devastated by Tusla controversy, says solicitor

Garda whistleblower considering taking legal action against Child and Family Agency

 Sgt Maurice McCabe. File photograph: Cyril Byrne /The Irish Times

Sgt Maurice McCabe. File photograph: Cyril Byrne /The Irish Times

 

Garda whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe and his family are devastated by the latest claims against him and want to know “when this will end”, his solicitor has said.

The controversy around Sgt McCabe grew on Thursday after it emerged that Tusla – the Child and Family Agency - sent a file containing false allegations of child sex abuse against him to gardaí which he was not told about at the time.

Solicitor Seán Costello said he first met Sgt McCabe in 2008.

“It is now 2017 and it seems like every month something comes up. They just want to know when it will end.”

Mr Costello told RTÉ’s Today with Seán O’Rourke show that the McCabe family and their legal team still have questions for Tusla and the HSE.

“We would like to see more information and documents and see how it reached this stage. The question is how that occurred.”

In 2008, Sgt McCabe alleged that the penalty points system was being abused by some gardaí.

It has been alleged that senior gardaí including Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan subsequently orchestrated a smear campaign against Sgt McCabe in an attempt to discredit him. She has denied this but a commission of investigation has now been established to examine the treatment of garda whistleblowers.

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Child protection

Mr Costello said he was concerned that an incident such as the false allegations against Sgt McCabe could have happened within an agency that is tasked with child protection.

The solicitor explained that the original counsellor who had investigated the complaint did not directly work for Tusla and was not an employee of either it or the HSE.

When asked if there was any connection between the counsellor and the original complainant, he said he did not know. He said there were a lot of questions about the degree of the gaps.

“It is extraordinary that an agency such as Tusla or an agency working for them, should make a mistake of this nature. That such an error could occur and not be rectified.”

Mr Costello said that Sgt McCabe met Minister for Children Katherine Zappone after he received a copy of the Tusla file on the whistleblower on January 10th, 2017.

He said Sgt McCabe was considering all his options when asked if he or his family would be suing Tusla. “He and his wife Lorraine, are devastated by events over the past few days.

“An apology from Tusla will not be enough.We were told the Tusla review would take place and it concluded in September of 2016. What we were told is the matter would proceed no further. But at that stage we weren’t given any of the details we now know.”

Written apology

The chief executive of Tusla Fred McBride said he had sent a written apology to the McCabes on Friday.

Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald maintains that the only “logical, common sense and honourable thing” for the Garda Commissioner to do is to step aside for the duration of the commission of inquiry.

“What we’re looking at is an unprecedented situation. I don’t accept that the act of stepping aside is an admission of guilt or that she couldn’t step back in after the Inquiry.”

Ms McDonald described the revelation that Tusla had forwarded a file containing false allegations against Sgt McCabe in a “clerical error” as “getting deeper and deeper into the mire.”

“I don’t think it gets any more serious than this.”

Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin spoke with Sgt McCabe on Thursday as he wanted to be clear he had not caused any damage to him by his revelations about the sexual assault allegations under Dáil privilege earlier this week.

“As I suspected he did not think that my revelation of details that are now in the public domain, was in any way damaging to him,” he told RTÉ.

Mr Howlin called for Ms O’Sullivan to step aside. “She is entitled to a presumption of innocence, but she should step aside because of her position of power.”