Tribunal to include second garda’s allegations against force

A second garda’s allegations against senior members of the force and state agencies will be included in the tribunal into the alleged smear campaign against Garda whistleblowers.

The Dáil will today debate the terms of the tribunal, which is to centre on how Sergeant Maurice McCabe and now Garda Keith Harrison were allegedly undermined by management.

Ministers yesterday met Garda Harrison, who claims he was victimised by other gardaí after arresting a plain-clothes member of the drugs squad for drink driving.

Garda Harrison claims Tusla opened up an investigation into the wellbeing of his family after he raised internal issues with the force.

Speaking about the Harrison case in the Seanad last night, Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone, who met the whistleblower in Leinster House, said: “I am examining if it is possible to include a module which would cover their case as part of the independent tribunal that is being set up.

“If it is possible to do this in a way that will not cause a delay in reporting on Maurice McCabe’s case then I would be in favour of this.”

Government and opposition sources last night said his case is expected to be part of the tribunal.

Sgt McCabe says his name was blackened by false Tusla child sex allegations after he raised concerns about malpractice in the force.

Superintendent Dave Taylor, a former Garda press officer, is another whistle-blower, claiming he was directed by Garda commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan to negatively brief media about Sgt McCabe, a charge the head of the force strongly denies.

The terms of the inquiry will examine these issues. Furthermore it will also include allegations that Ms O’Sullivan tried to undermine Sgt McCabe during the O’Higgins commission, which investigated his allegations about the force in Cavan/Monaghan.

The inquiry will investigate if false allegations of sexual abuse or “any other unjustified grounds” were “inappropriately relied” upon by Ms O’Sullivan to “discredit” Sgt McCabe during that inquiry.

Sources said the key issue that would help limit the scope of the inquiry from dealing with other whistle-blower complaints is the Tusla link.

As of last night, Supreme Court judge Peter Charleton was understood to be still agreeable to conducting the tribunal. Under the terms, he will report directly to the justice minister with his findings and also produce interim reports.

The tribunal will have to keep costs down — any witnesses who are found to have failed to co-operate during proceedings will be expected to pay their own costs.

The Cabinet is expected to agree the terms before they are debated by the Dáil.

It is expected the terms may be discussed or at least flagged with the McCabes before they are put before the Dáil, as the garda and his family had issues about previous proposals for a commission of investigation.

The terms will also specifically examine contact between the gardaí, the media, members of the Government, Tusla, and the HSE, said sources.

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