The Disclosures Tribunal was told that if the allegations stuck there would be “severe consequences” not just for the officers, but their families and future generations of their families.
The tribunal is examining if former commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan relied on unjustified grounds to discredit Sgt McCabe at the O’Higgins inquiry in 2015, which was investigating his complaints of poor policing in Cavan/Monaghan and allegations of corruption and malpractice against five senior officers.
Colm Smyth, lead barrister for both Ms O’Sullivan and the five officers at the O’Higgins commission, told the tribunal that Garda counsel faced an “impossible task” as they only had their first consultation with gardaí three days before the O’Higgins inquiry began.
He said that when he read the so-called core booklet — a document setting out the main issues the commission would investigate — a document by Sgt McCabe “sprung out” given its very serious allegations, including corruption, against the officers.
Mr Smyth said this document caused counsel “considerable alarm” and added: “We were on red alert.”
He said his clients were in a “very bad way” and were under “strain and anxiety” since the allegations were made in 2008.
He said there was “nothing more serious” for a garda than to be accused of corruption.
The tribunal has been trying to establish how and why Garda counsel, based on documentation as well as factual input from their clients, and under instructions of Ms O’Sullivan, attacked Sgt McCabe’s motivation and credibility (and for a time his integrity) and how a mistake happened in which Sgt McCabe was accused of making allegations in order to effectively blackmail a senior officer.