Tuesday 22 August 2017

Tusla manager says buck stops with him for 'catastrophic errors' over McCabe

Tusla’s Gerard Lowry at the Disclosures Tribunal in Dublin Castle. Photo: Collins
Tusla’s Gerard Lowry at the Disclosures Tribunal in Dublin Castle. Photo: Collins

Gerard Cunningham

A senior Tusla manager has accepted the buck stops with him in relation to errors made in handling false allegations of child abuse against Garda whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe.

Gerard Lowry, the Tusla manager for Cavan-Monaghan, denied he was trying to blame others for "catastrophic errors" made by the child protection service.

"I don't accept that analysis, I'm accountable to the service both for what I know and for what I don't know," Mr Lowry said.

"The buck has to stop with you with regard to this," Paul McGarry SC put to the witness on behalf of Sgt McCabe.

"I accept that," said Mr Lowry.

The Charleton Tribunal is examining claims that allegations of sexual abuse were used as part of a campaign to smear and undermine the reputation of Sgt McCabe. The DPP decided against pressing charges in the case due to lack of evidence in 2007.

Mr Lowry said a reference to a "no blame culture" in a Tusla report was to encourage others to come forward when things went wrong so he would be aware of what was happening.

Mr McGarry said a letter sent to Mr McCabe's solicitors was "replete with self-justification before you even get to the apology".

The tribunal had previously heard a "copy and paste error" led to Sgt McCabe being wrongly accused of serious sexual assault.

The barrister asked Mr Lowry if he could imagine anything more serious than being accused of raping a seven-year-old child.

"I agree dealing with these situations is hugely emotional and difficult, particularly for the adult who receives this letter," said Mr Lowry.

He said he did not accept there was an attempt to conceal all the errors that had been made in handling the sergeant's file.

Earlier, Mr Lowry denied there was "any co-ordination, liaison or collusion" with gardaí in creating files containing allegations of sexual abuse against Sgt McCabe.

The tribunal heard solicitors for Sgt McCabe wrote two letters to Tusla in January 2016 and June 2016, saying that any allegations of sexual abuse against Sgt McCabe were not true.

Tusla replied to the initial letter - sent in January - five months later in which they stated the more serious allegations of sexual abuse had been withdrawn.

The letter sent by Sgt McCabe's solicitors in June 2016 challenged the statutory basis for any investigation by Tusla of allegations which had already been fully investigated by gardaí.

Sgt McCabe's solicitors said that some months before the original complaint was made by Ms D in 2006, the sergeant had reported Ms D's father, a garda, for serious misbehaviour.

The letter said that the lack of any action on the case for 10 years since the allegations were first made until 2016 was "unexplained and inexplicable", and that a delay of five months in replying to the previous letter was "astonishing".

After the solicitor's letter was received in June 2016, the Sgt McCabe files were passed to a newly formed Sexual Abuse Regional Team (SART).

"I think at that point we felt a bit overwhelmed by it," Mr Lowry said.

The tribunal will resume today.

Irish Independent

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