Charleton Tribunal completes first module and will resume in September

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

The tribunal is looking into whether garda whistleblower Sergeant 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 TUSLA of a file containing false allegations of sexual abuse against Sgt McCabe that was sent to Gardaí in 2013, and whether these false allegations and the file were knowingly used by senior members of gardaí to discredit Sgt McCabe.

It also began investigating what knowledge former Commissioner Martin Callinan or current Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan or other senior garda members had concerning this false allegation and whether they used it to discredit Sergeant McCabe.

The tribunal heard today from a senior social worker who said he did not notice 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."

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 DPP had directed no prosecution of Sgt McCabe in 2007 following allegations from Ms D.

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.

Mr Justice Peter Charleton

Mr Deeney 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.

Mr Deeney 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 business 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 that she forwarded the initial incorrect notification to gardaí in May 2014, and a month later, she sent out an amended notification.

Ms Dewhirst said the notification was sent to Bailieboro garda station because Ms D’s home address was in the Bailieboro garda district.

Ms Dewhirst 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 with Sgt McCabe. However, this did not happen, and the case file was closed in October 2007.

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