Thursday 27 July 2017

Terrible errors in McCabe report were coincidences - Tusla boss

Tusla area manager for Cavan-Monaghan Gerard Lowry at the Disclosures Tribunal in Dublin Castle. Photo: Collins
Tusla area manager for Cavan-Monaghan Gerard Lowry at the Disclosures Tribunal in Dublin Castle. Photo: Collins

Gerard Cunningham

A senior Tusla manager has said the failure by the agency to correct a series of errors which resulted in false allegations of child abuse against Garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe were coincidences.

The Charleton Tribunal has been examining claims allegations of sexual abuse were used as part of a campaign to smear and undermine the reputation of Sgt McCabe.

Tribunal barrister Pat Marrinan said there had been a "total failure" of systems in Tusla, and every error was to the detriment of Sgt McCabe.

"There isn't an error in his favour," he said.

"I think they are terrible errors consistently, but they were absolutely coincidences," Gerard Lowry, the Tusla area manager for Cavan-Monaghan, told the tribunal.

Mr Lowry said he did not remember Sgt McCabe attending child protection meetings.

Tusla social worker Laura Connolly at the tribunal yesterday. Photo: Collins
Tusla social worker Laura Connolly at the tribunal yesterday. Photo: Collins

But Mr Marrinan cited several examples the tribunal had discovered, dating to 2004, where the sergeant was present and had been put on "core teams" to deal with protection issues.

"It is not just simply the odd meeting that Sgt McCabe is attending," Mr Marrinan said.

Mr Lowry said he accepted that was the record.

Mr Marrinan said despite the tribunal's request for anyone with information to come forward, it was not until late in its inquiries that investigators learned Sgt McCabe was known to social workers.

"Until that, the tribunal was unaware anybody in Tusla knew Maurice McCabe, knew anything about him being in the media," the barrister said.

"By and large the statements we received were of one page in length and didn't really deal with the issues."

Mr Lowry said when he received an email in 2014 about Sgt McCabe, identified as "MMcC", he "knew who the email referred to when I received it".

The email referred to allegations made to counselling service Rian by Ms D, who had made accusations against the sergeant in 2006. More serious allegations from an unrelated case - that of Ms Y - were added in error to the file on Sgt McCabe.

"I instinctively said deal with this in the normal way.

"Don't make an exception of it, deal with it in the normal way," Mr Lowry said.

He said he erred in not ensuring that records were fully corrected once the mistakes were uncovered by Tusla.

"I think when there is a data error of this nature we should have looked at the records to see if we created records," he said.

Mr Lowry said he was aware Rian had sent false information regarding rape offences.

"My error was in not checking what records we had created as a result of the Rian information," he said.

By May 2014, Sgt McCabe was in the public eye. Mr Marrinan said there was a suggestion "in the ether" that the false allegations played into senior Garda management's hands.

The tribunal also heard how social worker Laura Connolly was unable to explain the "total silence" after an error led to false allegations being placed in reports she created on Sgt McCabe.

Ms Connolly said no one contacted her after the child protection service was alerted to the "enormous error" in May 2014.

"I don't know," said Ms Connolly," when asked why no one asked her how it had happened.

Irish Independent

Promoted articles

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News