Social worker cannot explain 'total silence' after error that led to false allegations in Sgt McCabe report

A social worker was unable to explain the "total silence" after an error led to false allegations being placed in reports she created on the children of garda whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe at the Charleton tribunal.

On April 30, 2014 Laura Connolly, a duty social worker in Cavan town, reviewed the file on Ms D, who had made allegations against Sgt McCabe in 2006 and again in 2013.

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. The DPP decided against pressing charges in the case due to lack of evidence in 2007.

Allegations from an unrelated case involving a Ms Y were added to the Ms D case file in error in 2013.

As a result of the Ms D allegations Ms Connolly created records for each of Sgt McCabe's children. These records erroneously contained the allegations from the Ms Y case.

Cross examined by Michael McDowell SC, who represents Sgt Maurice McCabe, Ms Connolly said no one contacted her after the child protection service was alerted to the "enormous error" in May 2014.

Laura Connolly outside the Disclosure Tribunal today. Pic: RollingNews.

Mr McDowell said that "alarm bells were ringing" over the error, and asked "why it was nobody lifted a phone to you and said, what happened here?"

"I don't know," said Ms Connolly. She said she had no explanation why nobody had contacted her about the error in the years since.

"The error in the original report was never brought to my attention and I have no recollection of a discussion of it in the office environment," she told the tribunal.

Mr McDowell said that there was “total silence in relation to you and this error at the time."

Ms Connolly told tribunal barrister Ms Kathleen Leader she was told she would be contacted by tribunal investigators in March 2017, and before then Sgt McCabe's name meant nothing to her and he "was not a person of interest to me."

She said that she could not recall the particular case, and was not a regular newspaper buyer.

She said it was not until 23 June 2017 she realised she had made a "catastrophic" mistake in compiling the files on Sgt McCabe's children when she saw the complete files.

And she said she understood that other staff in the department, including Tusla solicitors, were not aware until then what had happened.

"I have no recollection of my involvement in this case," Ms Connolly said. She said she did not recollect speaking with her supervisor, Eileen Argue, about the case.

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