Garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe rejects HSE apology over abuse allegations

Taoiseach and Tánaiste say they didn’t ask Zappone about McCabe meeting

Frances Fitzgerald has denied she was aware of the existence of a Tusla file containing false child sex abuse allegations made against Sgt Maurice McCabe. Video: RTÉ

 

Garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe has rejected the apology offered to him by the Health Service Executive over false allegations of sexual abuse made against him.

In a statement on Sunday, Mr McCabe and his wife Lorraine said the statement made by the HSE was “wrong”.

Claims that Sgt McCabe was the subject of a smear campaign by Garda management because he revealed serious wrongdoing by a number of gardaí are to be investigated by a formal commission of investigation led by the Supreme Court judge Mr Justice Peter Charleton.

The terms of reference for that inquiry were announced by Tánaiste and Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald last week, but they do not include examination of the role of Tusla, the child and family agency.

Let me be absolutely clear, when I went home and watched Prime Time, I did not know the facts as they emerged - Frances Fitzgerald 

In a statement issued on Saturday, the HSE said it apologised “unreservedly to Mr McCabe and his family for the distress caused on foot of this error. The HSE is making arrangements to offer this apology formally to Mr McCabe as soon as possible.”

Responding on Sunday, Mr McCabe and his wife Lorraine said in a statement: “We have just watched RTÉ news and listened for the first time to the HSE statement and apology. We reject both the statement and apology.”

“The HSE statement is wrong and this is not good enough. The file we have contradicts the statement and it is shocking that we have to again listen and deal with false information.”

Mr McCabe later added that the information in the HSE statement did not coincide with information released to him by Tusla under the Freedom of Information Act.

“It states that once the alleged error was discovered all proper procedures were taken by the HSE. Our FOI file shows the opposite. Our FOI file highlights serious questions to be answered and a blanket statement from the HSE without contacting us was unprofessional,” Mr McCabe said.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny speaking on RTÉ’s News At One on Sunday
Taoiseach Enda Kenny speaking on RTÉ’s News At One on Sunday

Both Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Ms Fitzgerald have denied they were aware of the existence of a Tusla file containing false child sex abuse allegations made against Sgt McCabe.

They have also denied that Minister for Children Katherine Zappone had briefed them on the litany of errors in the handling of allegations about the garda whistleblower by Tusla, the Child and Family Agency.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said on Sunday he did not know what was contained in the protected disclosures received from whistleblowers by the Tánaiste last October.

Mr Kenny said Ms Zappone had told him that she intended to meet Mr McCabe and that he had told her that if she did hold such a meeting to make sure she had a thorough account of it.

He said he had not known what the meeting was about as the minister was having it in a “private capacity”.

Minister for Justice and Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald speaking on RTÉ’s The Week in Politics
Minister for Justice and Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald speaking on RTÉ’s The Week in Politics

Also speaking on Sunday, Ms Fitzgerald said she had been phoned by Ms Zappone on the morning of her meeting with Sgt Maurice McCabe on January 25th last.

She had not contacted the minister afterwards as she was “respecting the integrity” of that meeting.

Speaking on RTÉ’s The Week in Politics, Ms Fitzgerald said she had been just as “stunned” watching revelations broadcast last Thursday night’s Prime Time programme as members of the public had been.

“Let me be absolutely clear, when I went home and watched Prime Time, I did not know the facts as they emerged. I did not have any of the information in relation to the counsellor, the referral to the HSE, any of those details. That was all absolutely new to me,” Ms Fitzgerald said.

“We do have to look at the reasons that Minister Zappone said that she didn’t bring the information to my attention.”

Speaking on the same programme, Independents4Change TD Clare Daly said she was “struck dumb” by the Tánaiste’s comments.

She said the protected disclosure of garda whistleblower Sgt Dave Taylor contained precisely this information about a smear campaign against Sgt McCabe involving allegations of sexual abuse.

Ms Daly said it had been widely spoken of in Leinster House and there were articles in the media in 2013. In 2014, she had been Minister for Justice.

“It just doesn’t add up.”

Ms Fitzgerald insisted she was not aware that the HSE intended to issue a formal apology to Sgt McCabe over the involvement of Tusla in the events.

Ms Fitzgerald said she had been finalising the terms of reference and had been about to bring them to Cabinet.

Labour Party spokesman on health Alan Kelly said he had been contacted by another whistleblower and had seen 13 letters sent by that person to the Minister for Justice outlining his issues.

These included one letter outlining serious concerns he had with Tusla and how that organisation treated him and his partner and their children.

He said it was “unbelievable” that Tusla had not been included in the terms of reference for the Charleton inquiry.