McCabe social workers to face inquiry

McCabe social workers to face inquiry

Three social workers involved in the processing of the false Maurice McCabe sexual abuse allegation in Tusla are to face a fitness to practise inquiry.

The sworn inquiry is to be convened following a decision by a preliminary investigation that the three have a case to answer at a full inquiry.

The inquiry is being held under a 2005 act which stipulates that it be in public unless a decision is made to hold it in private.

The three social workers, Gerard Lowry, Seamus Deeney, and Katherine McLoughlin, were employed by the child and family agency in the north-east region between 2013 and 2016 when the false allegation against the Garda whistleblower was processed.

All three gave evidence to the Disclosures (Charleton) Tribunal about how a false allegation against Mr McCabe came to be processed.

The tribunal found there was a litany of errors within the child and family agency but it did not find that anybody had acted with malice against the former Garda sergeant and his family.

Documentation concerning the establishment of the fitness to practise hearing states that it “will consider some or all of the matters in respect of the conduct of the above social workers that was considered at the Charleton inquiry”.

The matter arose when a counsellor mixed up a referral to the agency in August 2013. The counsellor had seen a young woman, known as Ms D, who mentioned an allegation she had made against Mr McCabe, dating from when she was a child.

That allegation had been dismissed by the prosecuting authorities at the time as being without foundation.

However, the counsellor mistakenly mixed up that referral with an entirely separate case involving an allegation of rape.

Mr McCabe’s name was then associated within the agency for nearly a year with the grievous allegation.

A file was opened on his children on the basis that they may be at risk from him.

Eventually, in May 2015, the error was discovered but the McCabe family was never notified about what had occurred.

Despite the discovery of the error, Mr McCabe received a notice from Tulsa in late 2016 that he was the subject of a serious allegation and stating that he might be a danger to children.

Only then did the McCabe family become aware of what had occurred.

News of the affair led to the establishment of the Disclosures Tribunal and the McCabe family launched legal action against Tusla.

The hearing is being held by the Professional Conduct Committee of Coru, the health professional regulator. It is open to the committee to find that if a complaint is upheld, the subject of the complaint can be deregistered from their profession. An application to the High Court is required to impose such a sanction.

It is also open to the committee to impose a lesser sanction or to determine that the complaint does not merit any sanction.

The Irish Examiner understands that a date for the inquiry’s hearing has not yet been set. A spokesperson for Coru said that a fitness to practise hearing is a statutory complaints process and as a result, it can not comment on any matter regarding complaints.

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