LATEST: Second whistleblower's solicitor confirms his client wants to be part of public inquiry

  • Government agrees to hold a public inquiry into an alleged smear campaign against whistleblower Sergeant Maurice McCabe
  • Mr McCabe and his wife would not accept any private investigation
  • Taoiseach says terms of reference should be finalised within 48 hours
  • A second Garda whistleblower, Keith Harrison, wants his own case included
  • Taoiseach admits 'not giving accurate information' about his communication with Children's Minister
  • Frances Fitzgerald again denies misleading the Dáil regarding any knowledge of Tusla records relating to Maurice McCabe
  • Doubts have emerged over whether Supreme Court judge Peter Charleton will be able to chair any investigation
  • AAA-PBP TD Paul Murphy and Independent TD Mick Wallace call for Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan to stand aside
  • Taoiseach tells the Dáil a second time of his ' inaccurate account' about his knowledge on the false Tusla allegations
  • Tánaiste refuses to answer questions set out by whistleblower Sergeant Maurice McCabe
  • Taoiseach admits for first time that he was aware of false allegations of sex abuse against Maurice McCabe

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Update 9.55pm:Keith Harrison's solicitor Trevor Collins has this evening confirmed his client wants to be part of any public inquiry into the whistleblower crisis.

Alleging a "common pattern of treatment" of whistleblowers within the Force, including unfounded allegations of child sex abuse against whistleblowers and the spreading of rumours against them, Mr Collins reiterated Keith Harrison's earlier statement that his case should also be included in the inquiry.

Garda Keith Harrison

Children's Minister Katerine Zappone has said she will meet garda Harrison to discuss his demand.

Update 8.25pm: Enda Kenny has admitted for the first time that he was aware of false allegations of sex abuse against Maurice McCabe.

The Taoiseach has conceded that Katherine Zappone did tell him of the sexual nature of the false allegations against the whistleblower.

Both ministers insisted that further details were not discussed, though the Taoiseach declared that the matter fell within the scope of their inquiry into an alleged smear campaign.

The matter was discussed in some detail before last Tuesday's Cabinet meeting.

The Taoiseach said: "Minister Zappone said that she had met with the McCabes and that the question of false allegations of sexual abuse had been made to Tusla and discussed by her with the McCabes."

Update 7.50pm: Tánaiste and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald has refused to answer questions set out by whistleblower Sergeant Maurice McCabe.

The demand for explanations was turned down as the Government moved to open a potentially long-running tribunal to investigate an alleged smear campaign against the officer.

Sergeant McCabe sought answers on whether a superintendent held a meeting or had a phone call with health chiefs over the unfounded and false report of alleged sex abuse.

He also wanted the identity of an officer who took a call from the Health Service Executive about the untrue report of a rape allegation and who interviewed the alleged victim.

Sgt McCabe also asked for information about garda activity around the issue and whether a decision had been taken to keep the false claim from him.

Ms Fitzgerald said it would be "fraught" to set up a tribunal and immediately demand answers from people involved.

"Of course, I understand well the concerns which people have expressed about the treatment of Maurice McCabe. But it would be a great pity for people here to try to rectify one injustice by causing others," she said.

"Whatever anger people might feel, in this country we do not set up tribunals of inquiry simply to confirm what people already believe. We set them up to look at all the evidence, hear all sides, and establish what the truth is.

"We have to be careful not to rush to judgment. And above all everyone is entitled to basic, fair procedures enshrined in our Constitution. I am not prepared to ignore that and engage in a rush to judgment, which ignores anyone's fundamental human rights.

"We have to investigate matters fully, but it must be fairly too. I cannot uphold the integrity of the office to which I have been honoured to be appointed by setting at nought the rights of others."

Update 7.25pm: Ms Fitzgerald also referred to Sergeant Maurice McCabe's statement yesterday in which he asked for answers to six questions.

The Tánaiste says she does not have the information and is not certain she has the legal right to ask for it.

The Justice Minister said: "They are of course matters that will dealt with fully by any inquiry, and this gives rise to a difficulty with the suggestion it is simply a matter of asking the Garda Commissioner to ask the Gardaí involved.

"I have not had a chance to get detailed formal advice from the Attorrney General, but there are clearly implications for the rights of people involved."

Update 7.15pm: The Taoiseach Enda Kenny has again admitted he gave an inaccurate account of his knowledge on the false Tusla allegations against Maurice McCabe.

For the second time he admitted he had not given an accurate account of what he knew and when.

Mr Kenny told the Dáil: "I was aware of the meeting between Minister Zappone and Sergeant McCabe, but I was not aware of the details or of the very serious and disturbing issues that arose at the meeting.

"And in referring to this last Sunday, I mistakenly said that I had spoken to Minister Zappone before her meeting with Sergeant McCabe. That comment was inaccurate, alas Ceann Comhairle."

Update 6.30pm: Tánaiste and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald has again denied misleading the Dáil regarding any knowledge of Tusla records relating to false claims involving Garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe.

Speaking in the Dáil today, she said: "Suggestions have been made that I had knowledge of Tusla records at the time the matter was before Government, which would have required me to amend the terms of reference.

"As I have repeatedly stated that is not the case. And I was as taken aback at - and disturbed - at watching the revelations about Tusla that were aired last Thursday as anyone else. Clearly very serious issues have arisen.

She added: "My engagement with Deputy Jim O’Callaghan last Wednesday was constructive throughout and entirely focussed on ensuring that a commission of investigation would establish the full truth.

"I accept that each of our positions on this aspect of the discussion are genuinely held. And I acknowledge very much that is this spirit in which Deputy O'Callaghan has worked.

"I regret that differences have arisen between the two of us as to what exactly was said.

I have always found the Deputy honourable and I do know he made very helpful suggestions about changes that might be made to the terms of reference - which, indeed, I accepted in substance.

She added: "There is no question of me having misled the Dáil in any way in what I had to say here last Thursday."

Update 5.38pm: Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald, Children's Minister Katherine Zappone and Health Minister Simon Harris will give detailed statements to the Dáil this evening over their contradictory views of the Maurice McCabe smear campaign scandal, writes Fiachra Ó Cionnaith, Political Correspondent.

However, while a Government no confidence motion on the controversy is due to take place tomorrow, a high-profile debate on the scale of an imminent public tribunal into what happened may now be delayed until next week.

The decisions were made by the Dáil's 11-TD cross-party business committee this evening as the garda smear campaign scandal continued to escalate.

Mr Kenny, Ms Fitzgerald, Ms Zappone and Mr Harris will each give 10-minute statements addressing a series of contradictions over responses given by them and agencies under their remit to the McCabe scandal between around 6pm and 8.30pm this evening.

In particular, the statements are intended to clear up disagreements between Mr Kenny and Ms Zappone's version of events, and when other ministers became aware of the entirely false and incorrect Tusla sex abuse reports.

While opposition parties will be give limited opportunities to respond tonight, they will have greater scope to address the issues tomorrow during a Sinn Féin motion of no confidence in Government.

Although it has yet to be definitively agreed, the business committee has also discussed delaying the mooted debate on the scale and scope of a public tribunal into the McCabe scandal until next week instead of holding it either today, tomorrow or Thursday.

The delay, which has yet to be agreed, would be to allow Mr Kenny to meet with the leaders of other parties to discuss the likely terms of reference of the investigation.

Update 3.55pm: Doubts have emerged over whether Supreme Court judge Peter Charleton will be able to chair any investigation into the alleged smear campaign against Sergeant Maurice McCabe, writes Fiachra Ó Cionnaith, Political Correspondent.

Mr Justice Charleton was named last week as the person who would chair the planned commission of inquiry into the case, which is now set to become a public tribunal.

However, while no decision has been made, it has emerged this afternoon that a serving Supreme Court judge may not be legally allowed to chair a public tribunal.

The situation, which will cause yet more problems for Government, was referred to in passing during Leaders Questions by Taoiseach Enda Kenny, when he said the investigation would be chaired properly by a person, "whoever that might be".

Update 3.47pm: A second Garda whistleblower has issued a public statement, demanding that his own case be included in an inquiry or tribunal.

Garda Keith Harrison, who was named in the Dáil today, says the claims by Maurice McCabe are not isolated, but highlight "a common approach" to whistleblowers within senior management.

He says those tactics include an unjustified referral of his family to Tusla, as well as "malicious falsehoods" being spread to the media.

The Garda claims that restricting the new inquiry to only one case will allow Maurice McCabe's treatment to be presented as a once-off, when there is an orchestrated system led by senior gardaí.

Garda Keith Harrison

"I demand my case be included in any Inquiry/Commission of Investigation by the Government and political establishment," his statement concludes.

"We will not rest until this happens."

Mr Harrison claimed there is an "orchestrated system and culture" among senior management of the force that dictates the treatment of whistleblowers.

Mr Harrison said: "The efforts of this Government to restrict the inquiry/commission of investigation to the very traumatic story of Sergeant McCabe absolutely ensures we will not get to the bottom of the culture of management failures and ill-treatment of whistleblowers within An Garda Siochána."

Update 3.28pm: Taoiseach Enda Kenny has admitted that he is "guilty here of not giving accurate information" regarding his conversation with Children's Minister Katherine Zappone regarding her meeting with Garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe.

“I might say mea culpa - I am guilty here of not giving accurate information,” he told the Dáil.

Speaking on the 'On 'This Week' programme on RTE Radio last Sunday, Enda Kenny said: "Minister Zappone is doing a very good job, did tell me that she intended to meet with Sergeant McCabe in a private capacity and that's all I knew.

“I said to her: 'Well if you do have a meeting make sure that you have a thorough account of it', so when we had our meeting on Tuesday I wouldn't have been aware of any of the details of her discussions with [Maurice McCabe]."

Mr Kenny today said that he “regrets” saying that the conversation happened and that communication took place between his officials and Ms Zappone’s office.

AAA-PBP TD Paul Murphy said that the Taoiseach gave "a completely inaccurate statement" during Sunday's interview on RTÉ Radio.

"If you had said that conversation did not take place, then how could you remember it in such detail if it didn't take place?," said Deputy Murphy.

"It means on Tuesday, you knew about Tusla and you consciously didn't include it in the terms of reference, and it means you misled the public on RTE."

Deputy Murphy also called for the removal of Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan.

The Taoiseach also drew criticism from Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams.

"While your Government remains in office, there will be no truth, there will be no justice for Maurice McCabe," said Deputy Adams.

"A criminal investigation is needed."

The Taoiseach responded by calling Deputy Adams "an absolute hypocrite".

Update 2.57pm: Taoiseach Enda Kenny has apologised and admitted his account last Sunday of his knowledge of events of a conversation with the Children's Minister was incorrect.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin demanded that ministers come before the Dáil and explain themselves regarding the recent Maurice McCabe controversy.

"I also want to put it to you that the establishement of a tribunal of inquiry, and it hasn't been established yet, is no basis for Ministers not coming into the House, to answer questions to the House, and to be accountable to the House, in relation to the Tusla file, which is over and above an additional to, the protective disclosures issues which gave rise to the inquiry in the first instance," he said.

"Sergeant McCabe and his family deserve, as do others, the fairness and justice that will come from a tribunal of inquiry," Mr Kenny said.

The allegations to be investigated in the judge-led inquiry will be decided over the coming days.

"The issue here is there is any issue of truth and justice that needs to determined. It's a very sensitive and serious public matter now, the way to do that is to have the cooperation of everybody," the Taoiseach said.

"There isn't any point in having some private investigation or commission if the McCabe family are not willing to participate in it."

In a lengthy statement on Monday, Sgt McCabe accused Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan of privately discrediting him while publicly declaring her support over his horrific ordeal.

The officer claimed the police chief's lawyers set out to discredit him at the O'Higgins Commission which investigated and vindicated a series of allegations by Mr McCabe of negligence in policing in the Cavan-Monaghan district.

Ms O'Sullivan again insisted she played no role in the peddling of false rumours of child sex abuse against Mr McCabe in order to blacken his name for exposing wrongdoing in the force.

The McCabes set out a number of questions they want answers to.

They include a demand that the Taoiseach, Justice Minister and Children's Minister and other members of Government disclose if they were ever "briefed formally or informally" about the false abuse allegations.

Update 2.32pm: The Government has confirmed that it is holding a public inquiry into an alleged smear campaign against whistleblower Sergeant Maurice McCabe.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny confirmed the Cabinet has agreed in principle to set up a tribunal into the scandal of unfounded and false sex abuse claims being peddled against the respected officer.

The decision was taken after Mr McCabe and his wife Lorraine said they would not accept any investigation into the controversy being held behind closed doors.

"There's nothing worse in this country than to be called a sex abuser, nothing worse," the Taoiseach told the Dáil.

The terms of reference of the tribunal have not been finalised but Mr Kenny said the primary function will be to establish if there had been an organised smear campaign targeting Mr McCabe by senior garda.

Update 2pm: The Cabinet has agreed to set up a public inquiry into allegations of a smear campaign against Maurice McCabe.

Ministers signed off on the idea after it was discussed between Enda Kenny and Micheál Martin earlier today.

However there is no agreement on the terms of reference for the inquiry, which will only be drafted after talks with opposition parties.

Meanwhile there is no agreement yet on when a motion of no confidence in the Dail will be debated - with no agenda agreed for this week.

The Dáil's business committee is to meet again at 4pm to discuss a weekly timetable.

Update 1pm: It is understood that Fianna Fáil compiled draft terms of reference for a public inquiry into the Maurice McCabe scandal overnight, which leader Micheál Martin presented to Taoiseach Enda Kenny today.

Enda Kenny then held the usual midday pre-meeting with Fine Gael ministers and told them he would recommend the Cabinet proceed with a public inquiry.

The Government is also proposing to the Dáil business committee this afternoon that a motion of confidence in itself be taken tomorrow, and that would be voted on immediately after the debate.

Separately, children’s charity Barnardos welcomed the announcement that the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) will undertake an investigation into how Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, manages child abuse cases.

“It is crucial this investigation is thorough and concludes quickly to ensure confidence in Tusla is maintained,” said CEO Fergus Finlay.

“Any failings must be addressed so it is important senior social work professionals play an active role in the investigation.

“It is inexcusable to leave cases unallocated and ignored, thereby increasing the risk of harm to other children or damaging the reputation of innocent people.”

“Tusla has advanced the reform of Ireland’s child welfare and protection system since its establishment in 2014. But it has struggled from the start with inadequate resources.

He added: “So the HIQA investigation will not achieve its objective unless the Government accept that our child protection system has the child at its heart and is resourced appropriately.”

Update 11.55am: Taoiseach Enda Kenny has assured Fianna Fáil that a public tribunal of inquiry into the Maurice McCabe scandal will replace the Commission of Inquiry proposed last week, writes Daniel McConnell, Political Editor.

Mr Kenny met with Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin this morning and it was agreed that a public inquiry would now proceed after Sgt McCabe and his wife said they could not support a Commission, which would conduct its work in private.

At a meeting with Micheál Martin this morning, the Fine Gael leader said he would discuss the potential terms of reference with the Cabinet today.

The decision to scrap the Commission eases the chances of an election which had been threatened in the past 48 hours.

Independent Alliance ministers Finian McGrath and Shane Ross have said they will represent the views of Sgt McCabe at Cabinet and will be asking “hard questions” of their colleagues.

The Cabinet will this morning discuss establishing a public inquiry.

Sgt McCabe issued a statement yesterday saying he strongly opposed an inquiry that would be held in private.

He and his wife Lorraine said there is now "no reason to have any secret or private inquiry".

Update 11.51am: Health Minister Simon Harris has said the McCabe family deserve a public inquiry after saying they have "gone to hell and back" for speaking out about Garda malpractice, writes Fiachra Ó Cionnaith, Political Correspondent.

Speaking on his way into Cabinet, Minister Harris said a full public tribunal is now needed and that Government must accept it is the only way to address what has happened.

“A man and his family have gone to hell and back, and Government must and will respond in a manner which enables a platform of truth to be established,” he said.

“The culture of secrecy must end. Both human decency and the public good demand no less.”

Update 11.50am: Children’s charity Barnardos has welcomed the Health Information and Quality Authority’s decision to undertake an investigation into how Tusla manages child abuse cases.

They say this scrutiny is necessary to “ensure lessons are learnt and high standards are kept to the fore”.

Barnardos CEO Fergus Finlay said, “It is crucial this investigation is thorough and concludes quickly to ensure confidence in Tusla is maintained. Any failings must be addressed so it is important senior social work professionals play an active role in the investigation.

“Reassurances must be given that any complaints received will be handled robustly, consistently and in a timely manner. It is inexcusable to leave cases unallocated and ignored, thereby increasing the risk of harm to other children or damaging the reputation of innocent people.”

Update 11.10am: The Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (ISPCC) has backed calls for a public inquiry that encompasses “a broad and systemic review of how TUSLA deals with sexual abuse allegations”.

The ISPCC has released a statement following calls from the McCabe family to hold a public inquiry into TUSLA’s procedures and the alleged smear campaign against Maurice McCabe.

They welcomed the involvement of HIQA in setting the terms of reference, but has called for child protection professionals to be an integral part of the investigations.

ISPCC Chief Executive Grainia Long said: “While we welcome the investigation into handling of child sex abuse allegations by TUSLA, and the involvement of HIQA we are urging Minister Katherine Zappone to ensure the terms of reference allows for a systemic look at TUSLA systems and operations in this area.”

In their statement the ISPCC said the investigation should go beyond the examination of a single case to include child protection professionals.

“The ISPCC has consistently called for greater resources for TUSLA in both 2015 and 2016 budgets and we continue to believe that in resource terms, we have established a child protection system with one hand tied behind its back.

“The Irish child protection system is entirely dependent on the existence of trust between children and social workers, between parents and TUSLA, and between organisations who make referrals and the child and family agency.

“A timely investigation and implementation of findings will hopefully enable trust in TUSLA’s practices in investigating allegations of child sex abuse, to be restored,” Ms Long concluded.

Update 9.45am: The Taoiseach and Fianna Fail leader have been meeting this morning to discuss the next steps in the Garda whistleblower controversy.

They are expected to discuss the possibility of a public investigation, with Fianna Fail, Sinn Fein and Labour all reportedly in favour of a tribunal of inquiry.

After the talks with Micheal Martin and Enda Kenny will be facing into what is expected to be a stormy cabinet meeting.

Special Correspondent with the Irish Examiner Mick Clifford says the statement issued by Sergeant Maurice McCabe yesterday evening released some pressure after a dramatic day: “It looked like it would be quite possible that there could be an election,

“This has given everyone an out, now they can all say this is it, we will have a public tribunal and the heat comes off.”

Update 9am: The whistleblower saga has led to questions over Taoiseach Enda Kenny's leadership. Sinn Féin is trying to pass a motion of no confidence I the Government.

But Fine Gael TD for Wexford, Michael D'arcy, has come to the defence of his party leader: “I absolutely don't think we should be having this conversation this week, absolutely not.

“I think it is a matter for the Taoiseach, for him to determine, what he is deciding to do, whenever that is going to be.”

Earlier: The Taoiseach Enda Kenny will meet Fianna Fail leader Micheál Martin later, to discuss the option of a full public inquiry into allegations of a smear campaign against Sergeant Maurice McCabe.

There is growing pressure on the government to scrap the planned Commission of Investigation into the affair, after Sergeant McCabe said he was opposed to it taking evidence in private.

The cabinet will also discuss the matter this morning, with tensions running high between Fine Gael and their Independent Alliance partners.

But Fianna Fáil's playing down suggestions they could withdraw from their agreement with the minority government.

Fianna Fail's Justice spokesperson is Jim O'Callaghan: "It took us a long time to put that Government together, I was part of the team that negotiated with Fine Gael, it took a long time.

"The Government is in position for approximately nine months, if we have an election now the biggest problem is going to be, the entitlement that Srgt McCabe has to have a full inquiry, will not be vindicated."

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