Maurice McCabe: Nothing but a public inquiry will do

There is growing pressure for a public inquiry into an alleged orchestrated smear campaign and attacks by agencies of the State against Sgt Maurice McCabe, which the whistleblower says he and his family endured during an eight-year “nightmare”.

Cabinet will meet today and is likely to scramble to set up the inquiry in a bid to quell public anger and mounting criticism about its handling of the controversy.

In a detailed statement, Sgt McCabe outlined what his family had suffered, including false Tusla allegations that he was a child sex abuser.

The child and family agency has admitted that, in a ‘copy and paste’ error, a file wrongly alleged that Sgt McCabe had molested a child, a claim that remained on its database for a number of years.

This only emerged last week, as revealed by the Irish Examiner, and after the Government had already debated terms for a commission of investigation over an alleged garda-led campaign to undermine Sgt McCabe. Political chaos has now erupted over who knew what about the Tusla file.

In their statement, the McCabes said: “We have endured eight years of great suffering, private nightmare, public defamation and State vilification arising solely out of the determination of Maurice to ensure that the Garda Síochána adheres to decent and appropriate standards of policing in its dealings with the Irish people.

“Our personal lives and our family life, and the lives of our five children, have been systematically attacked in a number of ways by agencies of the Irish State and by people working for the State in those agencies.”

Sgt McCabe has now rejected the Government’s offer of a sworn inquiry in private, saying that truth and justice could not be postponed while another lengthy investigation is held behind closed doors.

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

The intervention by the McCabes follows another dramatic day of developments in Leinster House and in Government, where a series of contradictions have deepened the crisis for Taoiseach Enda Kenny and his administration.

  • Minister for Children Katherine Zappone has flatly contradicted Mr Kenny’s claim he first became aware of the Tusla allegations on Thursday. She says they were flagged two days previously;
  • A war of words has broken out between Fianna Fáil’s Jim O’Callaghan and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald over whether the latter was told about the Tusla file ahead of a Dáil debate;
  • Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan has dismissed calls by Government and opposition TDs for her to stand aside while an inquiry is held;
  • The Government now faces a motion of no confidence which Sinn Féin claims is needed to bring about fresh elections;
  • Backbench TDs are pushing for Mr Kenny to set out when he will step aside amid concerns that Fine Gael will be caught if a snap election is called;
  • Former garda press officer and whistleblower Spt Dave Taylor was yesterday cleared of any wrongdoing or media leaking by the DPP, a development which will add pressure to the Garda Commissioner’s position.

The growing problems for Mr Kenny and his ministers are threatening to collapse the minority government in the worst crisis it has faced since entering power last May.

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

The position of government partners Independent Alliance has also yet to be made public, amid suggestions that Transport Minister Shane Ross is livid over the Tusla fiasco.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin yesterday also put pressure on Ms O’Sullivan to resign by claiming she should “consider” her position.

However, the garda chief, who strongly rejects any claim that she is mixed up in a campaign against Sgt McCabe, came out fighting and said she would not quit.

“I have made it clear that I was not part of any campaign to spread rumours about Sergeant McCabe and didn’t know it was happening at the time it was happening,” she said. “I have repeatedly refuted that claim and do so again.”

However, there are growing calls now for the commission of investigation into the existence of a campaign to blacken Sgt McCabe’s name to be carried out in public.

Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin, Labour, and the Social Democrats were among those to back the whistleblower’s call.

Housing Minister Simon Coveney said it seemed “impossible to him” that it was a coincidence a ‘clerical error’ had resulted in the whistleblower being linked to a sex abuse allegation.

A government spokesman last night said that the issue of a public inquiry would likely be considered by the Cabinet today.

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

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

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

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

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