Whistle blower harassed by fellow gardaí

Sergeant Maurice McCabe is experiencing ongoing harassment at his place of work as a result of his efforts to expose malpractice in the Garda, the Irish Examiner has learned.

Garda whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe

The latest incident involved graffiti attached to a duty detail in Mullingar Garda Station, where Sgt McCabe is based in the traffic corps. The detail contains information about the members in the traffic corps listing them under “sergeant” and “guard”. Last week, a colleague of Sgt McCabe’s discovered that somebody in the station had added in felt pen the category of “whistleblower”. The detail showed “5 Sergeants 9 Guards” and beside it was added “+ 1 whistleblower”. It is understood colleagues of Sgt McCabe’s who were disgusted at the behaviour tippexed out the graffiti.

The incident is the latest that has occurred in recent weeks since the controversy around the whistleblowers blew up, culminating in the resignation of Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan. Last month, Sgt McCabe had complained to a superior officer after he was informed by colleagues that another superior officer had been referring to him in a meeting in a highly inappropriate manner.

Over the last five years, since he first made complaints about malpractice, the sergeant has claimed that on a number of occasions he was subjected to one form of harassment or another.

Sgt McCabe is still restricted from access to the Pulse computer system following an order from the former commissioner, dating from December 2012, when Sgt McCabe and former garda John Wilson were endeavouring to highlight the abuse of the penalty points system.

Last week, interim commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan said the sergeant’s restricted access was under review.

Sgt McCabe made a number of complaints about the conduct of investigations into serious criminal incidents that occurred when he was serving as Sergeant in Charge at Bailieboro Garda Station in Co Cavan. His allegations are currently the focus of a review by senior counsel Sean Guiren.

News of the latest incident comes as Garda management initiated a survey of the force’s 13,000 members to see how to improve the organisation in the wake of the recent controversies.

The commissioner is asking all members to comment on matters like accountability and governance and give their views on how the force can operate better.

“We need to demonstrate a stronger commitment to openness and transparency, strengthen our governance structures and further improve accountability,” she wrote in the letter.

Meanwhile, the High Court yesterday ruled against the other Garda whistleblower, John Wilson, in an action in which he challenged disciplinary action taken against him for not accounting for his presence in a court sitting while off-duty. No allegation had been made against him, but he refused to say why he was present in a case involving a dispute between neighbours at Virginia District Court in January 2012 on the basis that he was off-duty.

High Court judge Iseult O’Malley ruled that even if a serving garda was off-duty, his or her presence in a court was not a private matter.

Speaking afterwards, John Wilson said the judgment required careful examination and as the case was still live it would be inappropriate to comment at this point. The case is back before Justice O’Malley on May 16 when the matter of costs will be decided.

An Garda Síochána is currently the focus of three separate inquiries, including the Commission of Investigation, the terms of reference of which were announced last week. This will now include a full inquiry into events surrounding the arrest of Ian Bailey and his partner, Jules Thomas.

Two other inquiries are due to report in the next fortnight, including an examination of events around the suspected bugging of the Garda Ombudsman’s office, and the review of the allegations made by Sgt McCabe.

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