Tribunal into alleged smearing of McCabe breaks for seven weeks

Letter with false abuse allegation sent to McCabe due to office ‘busyness’, witness says

Sgt  Maurice McCabe attending  the Charleton  Tribunal in Dublin Castle. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins.

Sgt Maurice McCabe attending the Charleton Tribunal in Dublin Castle. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins.

 

The Charleton tribunal has completed its first module and will resume on September 18th when it looks at complaints from Garda Keith Harrison.

The tribunal is looking into whether garda whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe was the target of a smear campaign on the direction of senior Garda management.

The first module set out to investigate the creation, distribution and use by the Child and Family Agency Tusla of a file containing false allegations of sexual abuse against Sgt McCabe which was sent to gardaí­ in 2013, and whether these claims were knowingly used by senior gardaí­ to discredit Sgt McCabe.

It also began investigating what knowledge former Garda commissioner Martin Callinan or current commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan or other senior members of the force had concerning this false allegation.

On Thursday, a senior social worker told the tribunal he had not noticed that an incorrect allegation against Sgt Maurice McCabe which had previously been corrected was repeated in a letter sent to the whistleblower in 2015.

Seamus Deeney, a principal social worker in Cavan-Monaghan, said that when he saw a garda notification form about Sgt McCabe in May 2014, he was aware of the name and of the “whistleblowing saga that was going on”.

Unrelated case

An administrative error meant an allegation from an unrelated case was incorrectly added to a file on Sgt McCabe, which was placed on a garda notification form in early May 2014. The Director of Public Prosecutions had directed no prosecution of Sgt McCabe in 2007 following allegations from “Ms D”, which the tribunal has heard described as amounting to “horseplay”.

Mr Deeney signed off on the garda notification form, and later in the same month, he was informed that an error had been made and incorrect allegations were contained in the notification. He said he did not recall this ever happening before.

In June 2014 an amended garda notification report on Ms D was sent to gardaí­.

Mr Deeney read the amended report to assure himself the incorrect information had been removed. However, a sentence saying that Sgt McCabe had threatened Ms D’s father if she said anything erroneously remained in the report. “I never picked up on that at the time,” Mr Deeney said.

In May 2015, a review of unallocated cases was carried out.

Mr Deeney drew up a five-point plan for dealing with the case, beginning with contacting Ms D. However, because she was sitting exams, this did not happen.

Mistake repeated

He said that although he had seen the amended notification the previous year, he did not notice that a draft letter to Sgt McCabe prepared in 2015 repeated the incorrect allegation.

Mr Deeney was asked by tribunal barrister Pat Marrinan SC if he could offer any excuse for what happened. “No. Only the busyness of the office and the pressure to get work done,” Mr Deeney said.

Linda Dewhirst, who was charged with dealing with notifications between the health services and gardaí­, said she forwarded the initial incorrect notification to gardaí­ in May 2014, and a month later, she sent out an amended notification.

Ms Dewhirst said this was sent to Bailieboro Garda station because Ms D’s home address was in the Bailieboro district. She said she did not know who Sgt McCabe was when she was handling the notification file in 2014.

Social work team leader Mary Tiernan attended meetings where the original allegations made by Ms D in 2006 were dealt with.

In April 2007, when the DPP directed no prosecution, it was agreed that social workers from another district should meet Sgt McCabe. However, this did not happen, and the case file was closed in October 2007.