From 2006 to present: A timeline of events in the Maurice McCabe whistleblower crisis

Maurice McCabe, Nóirín O'Sullivan, Katherine Zappone

From January 2006 to present, we look back at the key moments in the Maurice McCabe whistleblower crisis.



Sgt Maurice McCabe makes complaint against a garda colleague which ends up with the officer being disciplined.


A garda makes a complaint against Sgt McCabe, alleging he rubbed up against a six-year-old girl inappropriately while playing hide and seek with his children. Sgt McCabe asks that the complaint be fully investigated. The DPP finds the allegation was without foundation.


Sgt McCabe steps into the public spotlight becoming the most high-profile whistleblower in the force after raising concerns about the internal handling of an assault allegation. A few months later, he lifted the lid on the penalty points controversy, claiming well- known personalities had their points wiped.

Maurice McCabe

READ MORE: Maurice McCabe: Nothing but a public inquiry will do


An interim report on the penalty points controversy is given to then-minister for justice Alan Shatter.



Penalty report by assistant commissioner John O’Mahony is published. It finds there may have been a breach of rules. In reply, the then Garda commissioner Martin Callinan said that “no evidence has been found to suggest any criminality in the cancellation of fixed charge notices”.


A garda and Tusla are contacted by a counsellor, making them aware of a child abuse allegation against a garda. The garda in question is Sgt McCabe. The alleged victim is the same woman who made the claim in 2006. A file is sent to Bailieboro Station on the basis that this is his local station. However, he had not worked there since 2008.


The comptroller and auditor general report supports whistleblower claims on the penalty points scandal.



Commissioner Martin Callinan ignites a political and public storm after calling the actions of garda whistleblowers “disgusting”.

Martin Callinan

READ MORE: Courageous public servant Maurice McCabe has earned the gratitude of thousands

Then PAC chairman John McGuinness says that he met Mr Callinan in a carpark. Mr Callinan attempted to undermine the credibility of Sgt McCabe, saying he “was not to be trusted and there were serious issues about him”. A few days later, Sgt McCabe appeared before the PAC outlining his concerns over the abuse of the penalty points system.

March 12:

Garda Inspectorate report into penalty points finds widespread breaches of policy.

March 25:

Mr Callinan retires for “family reasons”. Assistant commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan appointed acting commissioner.


The Child and Family Agency (later to become Tusla) opens files on Sgt McCabe and his family alleging sexual abuse.

May 7:

Mr Shatter resigns.

* Two years following his resignation, the O’Higgins Commission’s findings were that Mr. Shatter had dealt with the issues raised by Sergeant McCabe appropriately and properly.

Alan Shater

READ MORE: A fact-finding mission that would have to start from scratch


Counsellor contacts Tusla to say allegation of digital penetration in McCabe file have been ‘copied and pasted’ in error. Garda are notified of the error by Tusla.


A meeting is scheduled between the local superintendent and an assistant Garda commissioner. However, the meeting did not take place, according to gardaí.



O’Higgins Commission of Investigation, which looks at allegations by Sgt McCabe of malpractice in the Cavan-Monaghan division, is set up.


Tusla writes to Sgt McCabe informing him he is being investigated following allegations of child sex abuse. It is the first time he is made aware of the allegations. Sgt McCabe denies the claim.



The O’Higgins commission vindicates Sgt McCabe’s version of events and upholds the majority of his allegations.

May 13:

Irish Examiner publishes details of commission documents which show the legal team of Garda commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan attacked the motivation of Sgt McCabe, suggesting he was motivated by malice.

Nóirín O’Sullivan

READ MORE: O’Higgins commission key to any probe regarding alleged smear against Maurice McCabe


Sgt McCabe is contacted by Tusla which informs him that the sex abuse allegation was an error.


Retired High Court Judge Iarfhlaith O’Neill appointed to do paper review of the reports on the garda treatment of Sgt McCabe.



Sgt McCabe gets copy of freedom of information file on the handling of the allegation against him which outlines in detail the extent of the errors.

January 18:

Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone’s office makes contact with the McCabes.

Katherine Zappone

READ MORE: Any hearing should be held in public - McCabe scandal

January 24:

Peter Charleton Commission of Inquiry into allegation of a smear campaign against Sgt McCabe is announced by Government.

January 25:

Ms Zappone meets with the McCabes and is shocked by the details outlined.

February 8:

Labour leader Brendan Howlin delivers a bombshell in Dáil outlining, for the first time, the exact nature of the allegations against Sgt McCabe.

February 9:

Michael Clifford of the Irish Examiner and RTÉ Investigates release details of the Tusla file on the false sex abuse allegations and lay bare the litany of errors by State agencies and gardaí. The details sparked a full political crisis.

February 9:

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald claims she was not aware of Tusla link.

February 10:

Ms Zappone causes confusion after saying she informed “relevant Government colleagues” about Tusla errors. Mr Kenny and Ms Fitzgerald say they were not aware of the details.

Frances Fitzgerald

READ MORE: Conflicting accounts from Zappone and Kenny in McCabe’s case

February 10:

Sgt McCabe say he is to sue for damages.

February 11:

HSE issues an apology to the McCabes. However, it emerges HSE did not have an address for the McCabes and did not make any contact with them prior to releasing the apology.

February 12:

Frances Fitzgerald says she did not know about the details of the Tusla file until she saw it on RTÉ and did not ask Ms Zappone about her meeting with the McCabes. Mr Kenny tells RTÉ Ms Zappone did not tell him of the details of the McCabe meeting.

February 12:

McCabes reject HSE apology.

February 13:

Fianna Fáil Justice spokesman Jim O’Callaghan says he that told Ms Fitzgerald of the Tusla link on February 8. She maintains that Tusla was not mentioned. Ms Zappone also contradicts Mr Kenny’s version of when he first learned of Tusla’s involvement, stating she made him aware ahead of Cabinet meeting on February 7.

February 13:

McCabe family issues a statement rejecting any private inquiry and calling for a public inquiry.

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