By Michael Clifford
Sergeant Maurice McCabe had enjoyed a steady rise through the ranks of An Garda Siochana for twenty years before trouble found him.
A native of Co Cavan, he joined the force in 1985 and served in various posts around the northeast. In 2004, he was appointed sergeant-in-charge of Bailiboro district station, an extremely busy and often troublesome rural district.
Over the following four years, he served under five superintendents. Subsequently, four of them would speak of him in glowing terms, his professionalism, his character and how they relied heavily on him.
He was considered a hard worker and conscientious policeman.
He was also regarded as a bit of a stickler, unwilling to tolerate the kind of lax standards applied by some within the force.
In December 2006 the daughter of a colleague made an allegation that he had touched her inappropriately some eight years previously in his house.
Ms D, as she came to be known, had been in contact with the social services in 2005 over allegations of a sexual and behavioural nature.
This had nothing to do with McCabe and she never mentioned any allegation against him during that engagement.
In January 2006, McCabe had reported Ms D’s father for ill-discipline over turning up off-duty and drunk at the scene of a suicide.
The had been other issues between the two guards but Mr D and his daughter always maintained this had nothing to do with her allegation.
A garda investigation, the state solicitor and the DPP all found Ms D’s allegation to be groundless. Yet the affair had major impact on McCabe.
In March 2008 he resigned as station sergeant. A few months later he made a complaint about poor and shoddy policing he had witnessed in the preceding year.
He transferred to Mullingar where he is still officially posted although he has been out on sick leave for some time now as a result of the fall-out from his complaints.
An internal garda investigation upheld some of his complaints, dismissed others and took practically no action on foot of the complaints. McCabe became completely disillusioned with the force as a result of that internal inquiry.
Later, at the O’Higgins inquiry, the internal investigation would be criticised and all McCabe’s serious complaints upheld.
In 2012, McCabe’s attention was drawn to malpractice in road policing. He once more complained and once more an internal garda inquiry largely dismissed his concerns.
Later inquiries by other agencies vindicated him.
In 2014 he and former garda John Wilson received People Of The Year awards for the work they did in highlighting malpractice.
McCabe is an unlikely whistleblower. He and his wife have five children and they live in Co Cavan near where he grew up.
His 91-year-old father and brother live nearby and his immediate and extended family have been a source of strength through the decade since he first spoke out.
For the last ten years, he has lived with the consequences of speaking out.