Charleton Tribunal; Garda says he never saw notification about sex abuse allegation

By Gerard Cunningham

A garda sergeant assigned to act as liaison officer with Tusla has said he never saw a 2014 notification containing a false allegation of sexual abuse against garda whistle blower Sgt Maurice McCabe.

Sergeant Tony Byrne said that the first time he became aware of the garda notification, sent by the child and family agency in May 2014 to Bailieboro garda station, was when the Charleton tribunal began.

A Tusla file on Sgt McCabe was opened when the witness, identified as Ms D, sought counselling in 2013 about a previously reported allegation which was investigated by gardaí in 2006.

The tribunal is examining claims that allegations of sexual abuse were used as part of a campaign to smear and undermine the reputation of Sgt McCabe.

Sgt Byrne was transferred to Bailieboro garda station in Co. Cavan on his promotion in February 2010. He said he learned about a 2006 case involving Sgt McCabe which was investigated and led to the DPP deciding in 2007 not to bring charges.

He told tribunal barrister Kathleen Leader BL he was aware of issues regarding complaints from Sgt McCabe "about the standards of policing" in Baileboro and that there were ongoing garda inquiries as a result.

"I was aware just prior to transfer that there had been complaints about the standards of policing. And I was aware there had been a complaint made about him dating back to 2006,” Sgt Byrne said.

He said that he had not seen a garda notification about Sgt McCabe which was sent to Bailieboro garda station in May 2014. He said that it would be "unusual" for him not to see the file.

And he said it was unusual that a report would be sent to gardaí from Tusla in a case which had already been investigated.

The sergeant has also not seen a second garda notification sent by Tusla in June 2014, which corrected the false allegation contained in the previous report sent in May.

Michael McDowell, on behalf of Sgt Maurice McCabe, said it appeared that Supt Leo McGinn had referred the Tusla notification to the chief superintendent in charge of the Cavan-Monaghan division, asking that it be referred to a cold case unit, or investigated by officers from outside the division

Sgt Byrne also said that when he was asked by a Tusla social worker, Kay McLoughlin, about Sgt McCabe at a liaison meeting in 2015, he felt "uncomfortable" and did not know what she was talking about.

"The only reason I remember the conversation was she mentioned his [McCabe’s] name, and at that stage he was a fairly public figure," Sgt Byrne said.

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