A senior Tusla manager has told the Charleton Tribunal that it was incompetence and not “something sinister” that led to a false rape allegation being made against Garda whistle blower Sgt Maurice McCabe.
Linda Creamer, a regional service director with the child and family agency, apologised to the McCabe family for the stress they have endured.
The tribunal is looking into the creation and distribution of files by Tusla and the HSE containing false allegations against Sgt McCabe, and whether he was the target of a smear campaign.
A Tusla file on Sgt McCabe was opened when ‘Ms D’ sought counselling in 2013 about a previously reported allegation investigated by gardaí in 2006. The DPP decided in 2007 against pressing charges due to lack of evidence.
In December 2014, a letter was sent to Sgt McCabe, outlining separate allegations from a completely unrelated case, which were incorrectly put in his file.
Ms Creamer told tribunal chairman Mr Justice Peter Charleton she had been present for the last week, listening to evidence. She said Tusla was in a major transition programme but this was not to excuse anything that occurred with Sgt McCabe and his family.
“We are genuinely sorry for the McCabe family to go through such stress; to see such a letter at any time is unacceptable. Tusla is in the business of putting families together, not separating them, as this could have done,” Ms Creamer said.
She said she did not believe there was “something sinister going on” in relation to Sgt McCabe. “I believe it’s incompetence in the governance of the file.”
Ms Creamer said people often saw a file as a series of tasks and didn’t see the faces behind the documents.
Ms Eileen Argue, a social work team leader, told the tribunal she did not recall any of the events in May 2014, when a Garda notification file containing the false allegations was created.
Records were also opened on Sgt McCabe’s children, two of them aged over 18.
Ms Argue said it would not have been her practice at that time to open records on children who were over 18.
Mr Michael McDowell SC, on behalf of Sgt McCabe, said Ms Argue had “a very defective memory in relation to these events”. He put it to Ms Argue that she “wanted to avoid all personal involvement in this as far as you could and produce a misleading account”. Ms Argue said she did not accept that.
Mr McDowell said the Garda notification was created because of a post-it note written by Ms Argue, which directed social worker Laura Connolly to prepare a notification.
He said once it became apparent that the Garda notification was seriously wrong, he could not understand why the events did not stick in Ms Argue’s memory.
“Your agency accused a man of a rape offence in the wrong to his superiors,” he said.
“I can’t give an explanation why none of this sticks in my mind,” Ms Argue said.
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