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Friday 20 October 2017

‘Absolutely incomprehensible’ - TUSLA counsellor 'mistakenly copied and pasted' child rape allegations into file on garda whistleblower

  • Allegations of child rape by digital penetration
  • TUSLA admitted to 'clerical error' in 2014
  • Senior members of gardaí aware of allegation
  • Maurice McCabe first heard of allegations last year

Whistleblower Maurice McCabe. Photo: Tom Burke
Whistleblower Maurice McCabe. Photo: Tom Burke

Denise Calnan, Niall O'Connor and Philip Ryan

A TUSLA counsellor "mistakenly copied and pasted" allegations of the rape of a child by digital penetration into a file on garda whistleblower sergeant Maurice McCabe.

RTE's PrimeTime have revealed details of a sequence of errors which resulted in serious allegations against Mr McCabe.

The file containing the false allegation of child sex abuse was sent by the State child and family agency to gardaí and was widely circulated in 2013, the programme reported.

The father was alleged to have abused a young girl, with the detail that it was digital penetration, both vaginal and anal.

TUSLA is the body responsible for the protection and wellbeing of children.

Senior members of the force were aware of the allegation. It was also reported no attempt was made to put the allegations to Mr McCabe.

Tusla admitted to the "clerical error" in 2014. Meanwhile, Mr McCabe first heard of the allegations last year.

Fianna Fáil TD Darragh Calleary said his stomach churned as he watched the Prime Time programme.

“The notion that a very serious report can be made on the basis of a cut and paste job is absolutely incomprehensible given the seriousness of the job TUSLA have to do on a daily basis,” he said.

“Where are the checks and balances and have they reviewed the processes in light of what has come out given that they have done an investigation into this in January of 2017?

“I think that TUSLA need to urgently answer their appalling failings and how the situation arose. How Maurice McCabe was not informed? How files were opened on his children, including two adult children without being informed? And why they haven't issued an apology?”

The revelations come hours after a Fianna Fáil TD queried whether TUSLA will become part of the Commission of Investigation into the alleged smear campaign against sergeant Maurice McCabe.

Read more: Now TUSLA dragged into Maurice McCabe 'sex crimes' smear controversy

Carlow/Kilkenny deputy John McGuinness made the intervention towards the end of a Dáil debate on the terms of the reference for the judge-led inquiry.

Earlier on Thursday during ‘Leaders’ Questions’, Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald asked Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald whether “other state agencies” were approached by the gardaí in relation to allegations against Sgt McCabe.

Ms Fitzgerald said to her knowledge there were approaches to the garda oversight body, GSOC. But she was not aware of approaches to any other state agency.

But during a later Dáil debate , which heard calls for the terms of reference for the inquiry to be widened, Mr McGuinness cited the agency TUSLA. He asked whether it would be included in the work of the commission by Supreme Court judge Peter Charleton.

Ms Fitzgerald replied: “I think that would be entirely up to the commission to decide but I see no reason why if there is a relevant agency, for example the one that you mention, that it wouldn’t be included in the work of the commission.”

Queries to TUSLA and the garda press office have yet to be answered.

The development comes as the Government and the garda force continue to be rocked by the fallout of the allegations of a smear campaign against Sgt McCabe.

Among the terms of reference for the commission of investigation is to determine whether journalists were pointed to whether Superintendent David Taylor was “directed” to draw journalists’ attention to an “allegation of criminal misconduct made against Sgt McCabe”.

In the Dáil on Wednesday, Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin claimed that Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan was involved in the leaking allegations that Sgt McCabe was involved in crimes of a “sexual” nature. She has vehemently denied the claims in a statement.

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