The former chairman of a Dáil committee that probed the Garda whistleblower affair said he was shocked and horrified to discover a Tusla file was the source of the false sex offence allegations against Sgt Maurice McCabe.
Fianna Fáil TD John McGuinness raised Tusla’s involvement in the scandal in the Dáil yesterday, when he looked for assurances that the commission of investigation would be able to question the agency.
Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald said that while it was a matter for the commission chairman, Mr Justice Peter Charleton, she did not see that there would be any problem doing this.
Mr McGuinness later revealed that he sought the assurances after being shown an official case file created by Tusla about an allegation of a sex offence by Sgt McCabe, who only recently was made aware of the file’s existence.
The commission is already planning to investigate the sex crime slur as part of the alleged wider smear campaign against Sgt McCabe but the source of the slur was unknown until now.
Mr McGuinness said the slur was groundless and the file was a “creation”.
“There are issues Tusla have to deal with. There was a file created for some reason that Maurice McCabe and his family did not know about and that file remained live on the system until very recently,” he said.
“Tusla have acknowledged that file was there. They say it was created in error but those questions have to be answered.”
Mr McGuinness told Newstalk it was essential to find out who created the file and why, how it was allowed to remain in circulation for so long and why Sgt McCabe was not informed about it.
“The organisation [Tusla] is going to publicly apologise, as they should, but that’s not enough. We need to understand where the story came from and we need to understand why and the officials at the centre of this now need to be part of the commission of investigation.
“I’m absolutely shocked and horrified that an agency of the State would carry on the way that it did.
“Tusla would say it [the file] was created in error — how can you create such a file with horrific consequences for a family and not have it dealt with?”
Earlier in the day, Mr McGuinness had denied there was any doubt over his claim to have been secretly briefed by the then Garda commissioner about Sgt McCabe.
The proposed terms of reference for the commission state he should investigate “whether a meeting took place between former Commissioner Callinan and Deputy John McGuinness... and to consider the circumstances which led to any such meeting, the purpose of such meeting and matters discussed at such meeting”.
Mr McGuinness said the wording of the terms did not cast doubt on his version of events. “There has only been one statement in relation to that meeting — mine. It’s important for Justice Charleton to establish the other side of that particular meeting. That’s a reasonable thing, I believe.”
The TD claims he met with Mr Callinan at the then commissioner’s request in a car park on January 24, 2014. This was days before Sgt McCabe was due to appear before the Public Accounts Committee which Mr McGuinness was chairing.
He only disclosed details of the meeting last year when he told the Dáil that Mr Callinan had told him Sgt McCabe could not be trusted.
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