Allegations of child sexual abuse made against Garda whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe “came out of the blue” when they were put to him nine years later, a Tribunal Judge has said.
Social worker Rhona Murphy told the Disclosures Tribunal that a garda colleague of Sgt McCabe named him as the alleged abuser of his daughter, identified as Ms D.
The tribunal, chaired by Justice Mr Peter Charleton, is investigating whether there was an alleged smear campaign against whistleblower Sgt McCabe.
In its first section, it is examining whether files created by other state agencies were created and distributed or otherwise used by senior members of our police force in inventing or furthering a false allegation of sexual abuse against Sgt McCabe.
The allegations, from a woman identified as Ms D, emerged after she was initially referred to social workers over a different issue in September 2005.
The allegations against Sgt McCabe were made in a statement to gardaí in December 2006.
The sergeant was not interviewed by social workers about the allegation, despite a meeting in April 2007 which minuted that he should be “offered a risk assessment”.
Ms Murphy said that because the DPP had decided against a prosecution, Miss D had “disengaged” from the service, and the child sexual abuse team had completed their assessment, the case was formally closed in October 2007.
In a letter about the case at the time, Ms Murphy noted that Sgt McCabe had not been met by any social worker about the allegations.
Tribunal chairman Peter Charleton said that the allegation “literally came out of the blue” when it was put to Sgt McCabe almost a decade later.
Mary O’Reilly, who was in overall charge of social work in the Cavan-Monaghan area, said that as sergeant-in-charge at Bailieborough Garda Station, Sgt McCabe would have been known to social workers.
Ms O’Reilly said that although her office had draft guidelines in place on dealing with abuse allegations, there were no national guidelines at the time.
She said that no “credibility assessment” had been made because the procedure was designed for interviewing young children, and Miss D was an adolescent and had already given a Garda statement.
And she said the guidelines at the time were “not robust enough” for dealing with cases where the alleged perpetrator was a colleague or someone known to social workers.
Asked why no one had met with Sgt McCabe, Ms O’Reilly said that her role was changing at the time and that the case possibly “fell off the radar”.
She said that she was happy at the time the decision was made to close the file that there was no risk.
And Ms O’Reilly also said she could not speculate whether someone else reviewing the file would reach the same conclusions.
Both witnesses said they had not discussed the case with anyone outside their workplace or with members of An Garda Síochána.
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