Whistleblower McCabe settles legal actions

Garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe has settled his legal action against the State, the HSE and Tusla for an undisclosed sum.

The settlement came after weeks of negotiations between the legal teams for Mr McCabe and the State agencies over the 11 separate actions brought by the former garda sergeant and his family.

The actions were based on how Mr McCabe, who retired from the force last year, was dealt with in the aftermath of making complaints of malpractice in the force in 2008.

Last year, the Disclosures Tribunal had heard a campaign took the form of smearing Mr McCabe using a false allegation of child sexual abuse. 

In earlier years, his complaints were rubbished in an official communique within the force despite being later found by a commission of investigation to be largely correct.

He had also been subjected to a disciplinary inquiry into a missing computer seized from a priest who was convicted of child sexual abuse. 

Mr McCabe was found ultimately to have no case to answer but was put through the inquiry process for more than a year.

Controversies that arose in relation to the handling of the McCabe case ultimately led to the resignations of two ministers for justice and two garda commissioners.

Martin Callinan retired in March 2014, in the wake of a controversy over his description of Mr McCabe’s actions as “disgusting” in a Public Accounts Committee meeting.

Alan Shatter resigned as minister in April 2014, but a court subsequently held that he had been unfairly treated in a report which prompted his resignation.

In September 2017, then commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan resigned after a series of controversies, including the McCabe case, had dogged her time at the helm. 

And in December 2017, minister for justice Frances Fitzgerald resigned following a controversy over how she had handled the McCabe case at an earlier stage.

Sergeant McCabe’s woes began in 2008 after he had compiled a dossier illustrating how up to a dozen investigations of mainly serious crime had been mishandled in the district of Bailiboro, Co Cavan.

Later, he exposed the abuse in An Garda Síochána of the penalty points system in road policing.

In both instances of complaint, initial internal inquiries by the gardaí provided a picture that was at great variance with Mr McCabe’s complaints but in both cases, external inquiries later vindicated his complaints.

The chair of the Disclosures Tribunal Judge Peter Charleton found Sgt McCabe, as he then was, had correctly raised concerns about low standards in the force for which there were attempts to wrongly blame him.

Judge Kevin O’Higgins, who chaired a commission of investigation into Mr McCabe’s original complaints, said he had “shown courage and performed a genuine public service at considerable personal cost.

“For this, he is due the gratitude of not only the general public but also of An Garda Síochána.” 

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