Minister for Justice offers State apology to Sgt Maurice McCabe
Charlie Flanagan: ‘He has done enormous service to the State’
Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan has apologised to garda whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe on behalf of the State for the manner in which he was treated over the past decade.
Mr Flanagan told the Dáil he had spoken to Sgt McCabe and was arranging to meet him “to reiterate this apology to him in person”.
The Minister said Garda Commissioner Drew Harris had also been in touch with Sgt McCabe.
The report of the Disclosures Tribunal, which investigated and confirmed a Garda smear campaign against the whistleblower over his allegations of Garda malpractice, vindicated Sgt McCabe.
Mr Justice Peter Charleton said former Garda commissioner Martin Callinan had engaged in a “campaign of calumny” against Sgt McCabe after he made allegations of corruption in the force.
Mr Flanagan’s response follows that of Taoiseach Leo Varadkar who on Tuesday in the Dáil reiterated his description of Sgt McCabe as a “distinguished” public servant. He said Sgt McCabe was in touch with him over the weekend “to thank me for my support of him”.
Mr Varadkar, who visited Bailieborough in Cavan on Friday, where Sgt McCabe is based, said: “I was in touch with him again to express my view that he has done enormous service to the State and to wish him and Lorraine the best into the future”.
Mr Flanagan told the Dáil that the tribunal’s findings were stark and that its central conclusion was that Sgt McCabe was “a man who rightly saw loyalty to the people as superior to any loyalty to an organisation of which he was part, a man who had the interest of the public uppermost in his mind at all times and who had to endure a campaign of calumny by those who should have supported him”.
The Minister said Sgt McCabe “deserves the gratitude of all of us for bringing serious shortcomings to public attention.
“He also deserves an apology for what he had to endure, both him and his family over the past decade.”
Mr Flanagan added: “Since the report was published, I’ve spoken with Sgt McCabe. I’ve apologised on behalf of the State to him and his family for the manner in which he was treated over a number of years. And I’ve arranged to meet the sergeant in the near future. I want to reiterate this apology to him in person.”
He said the tribunal report was damning in many respects and “goes to the heart of how An Garda Síochána handles allegations of wrongdoing within the organisation”.
Later during a debate on the tribunal report, Mr Flanagan said Sgt McCabe “has done the State some service”.
Fianna Fáil justice spokesman Jim O’Callaghan said the false allegations of child abuse against Sgt McCabe did not constitute criminal behaviour.
“The only remedy Sgt McCabe can have is the constitutional right to his good name,” he said and to rectify that through a defamation action. He commended Mr Flanagan for making an apology, which was the right thing to do but he said “apologies in defamation actions are just words”.
Mr O’Callaghan said Sgt McCabe was entitled to another remedy but “the State needs to recognise that its most senior police officer engaged in a campaign of calumny against him and that has to be rectified by the State”.
Independents4Change TD Clare Daly said she and Mick Wallace had not joined the baying hyenas calling for then minister for justice Frances Fitzgerald to resign. But she kept to her view that former Garda commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan could not have resigned quickly enough.
The tribunal said there was no evidence that Ms O’Sullivan engaged in the smear campaign against Sgt McCabe. Ms Daly referenced “Templemore, false breath tests and all of that other good stuff that was going on in the background”.