Tribunal of inquiry into McCabe smear allegations likely

Kenny and Martin meet to forge deal on controversy that threatens Government

A full tribunal of inquiry into the alleged smear campaign against Garda whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe is now likely after a day of division and contradiction in Government.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin will meet this morning in an attempt to agree a way forward through a controversy that has brought the nine-month-old minority Government to the brink of collapse.

The Cabinet will discuss the establishment of a tribunal this morning, and although some Ministers privately despair at the establishment of a potentially lengthy and expensive process, most acknowledge it is now inevitable.

Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and Labour are all in favour of a tribunal of inquiry.


Facing a Sinn Féin motion of no confidence, the Government is likely to propose a motion of confidence in itself, which will replace all scheduled Dáil business today and be voted on tonight.

An agreement with Fianna Fáil to continue its support for the Coalition is essential if the Government is to survive the vote, though sources in both camps said last night they expected agreement to be reached, with neither side keen to deal with an election at this point.

However, a stormy Cabinet meeting is expected today, with Minister for Transport Shane Ross seeking answers as to why Ministers were kept in the dark at last week’s meeting about the false abuse allegations about Sgt McCabe being made to Tusla.

Tusla allegations

Minister for Children Katherine Zappone said yesterday that she had told the Taoiseach about the Tusla allegations before last week’s meeting, an apparent contradiction of the Taoiseach’s denials that he knew about the scandal before an RTÉ

Prime Time

programme aired on Thursday.

In response to Ms Zappone’s statement, the Taoiseach insisted he was not aware of the detail of the allegations and had no knowledge of the “serious and disturbing issues” that have since arisen.

Contradictions in accounts of a meeting between the Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald and the Fianna Fáil justice spokesman Jim O’Callaghan remain, though a statement from the Minister last night said the “discrepancy should not stand in the way of investigating and establishing the truth”.

Sources said this was a sign that the parties were moving towards a resolution.

The Supreme Court judge asked to conduct the proposed commission of investigation into the treatment of Garda whistleblowers told the Government last week that he believed the draft terms of reference could cover the Prime Time revelations. Meanwhile, Sgt McCabe last night made fresh allegations against Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan. The commissioner has denied any knowledge of a smear campaign and insisted she would not stand aside.