The latest twist raises further questions about what the Government knew about the scandal and is set to put additional pressure on what is already a weak minority government.
Minister for Children Katherine Zappone has revealed that Enda Kenny knew about Tusla’s involvement in the whistleblower’s case before last Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting.
“I said that I had met with the McCabes, that we had discussed allegations that were part of Tusla and that was the nature of the conversation,” Ms Zappone said. However, her claim flatly contradicts the account of Mr Kenny, who said he knew nothing of Tusla’s involvement before it was revealed by the Irish Examiner and RTÉ’s Prime Time on Thursday.
The differing accounts, which a spokesman for the Taoiseach could not fully clarify last night, come after Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald became embroiled in a war of words with her Fianna Fáil counterpart, Jim O’Callaghan, over the false allegations of child sex abuse made against Sgt McCabe.
Mr O’Callaghan has insisted he is “100% certain” that he told Ms Fitzgerald about the scandal a day before it was publicly revealed — directly contradicting the Government’s version of events.
Mr O’Callaghan said he told Ms Fitzgerald about the Tulsa link “three or four times” during their meeting on Wednesday.
“When we sat down I said: ‘Listen, there’s an issue here, Prime Time are doing a programme tomorrow night about a Tusla file’,” he told RTÉ Radio’s Today with Sean O’Rourke programme.
“I’m 100% certain that I did mention Tusla. That was the only reason I was meeting her.”
However, like Mr Kenny, Ms Fitzgerald claimed she was unaware of the Tusla link before the programme aired on Thursday night.
Ms Fitzgerald yesterday avoided further media questions by entering and leaving through a back door at a Department of Justice prison service event. Her spokesperson, however, said that both individuals’ views are “genuinely held” and should not block an investigation.
The conflicting views highlight the increasing instability within the Cabinet and brings the spotlight back on the fragility of the current minority Government.
Fianna Fáil yesterday warned that the Government, which it is propping up through the confidence and supply agreement, could “collapse” unless the escalating controversy over whether senior ministers knew about the Tusla link to Sgt Maurice McCabe before it became public is resolved.