Garda Commissioner: 'I do not - and have never - regarded Sergeant Maurice McCabe as malicious'
Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan has moved to clarify that she has "never regarded Sergeant McCabe as malicious".
Last week, controversy arose around claims a senior counsel for Ms O'Sullivan told a private session of the O'Higgins commission that evidence would be produced to show Sgt McCabe had told two other officers he was making complaints because of malice he harboured towards a senior colleague.
However, no such evidence was ultimately given to the commission after Sgt McCabe produced a recording of the meeting, which showed he had not made those comments.
In a statement today, Ms O'Sullivan said whistleblower Sergeant Maurice McCabe’s contribution is valued.
"I have consistently and without exception, within An Garda Síochána and in public, stated clearly that dissent is not disloyalty, that we must listen to our people at every level with respect and with trust, and that we stand to gain, rather than lose, when members bring to our attention practices they believe to be unacceptable."
"Like every member of An Garda Síochána, Sergeant Maurice McCabe’s contribution is valued and the service has changed for the better in response to the issues about which he complained. I want to make it clear that I do not - and have never, regarded Sergeant McCabe as malicious."
"Any member of An Garda Síochána who raises issues will be fully supported. Each and every one of them must know they have the right and responsibility to raise their concerns and be confident that they will be listened to and addressed."
"They won't always be right and we in management won’t always be right either."
Ms O'Sullivan said the force can learn from the O'Higgins report which upheld complaints Sgt McCabe had about procedures and practices used in several investigations in the Cavan-Monaghan garda district.
However, it said he was prone to exaggeration on occasion and completely rejected corruption allegations he made against former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan and three other senior officers.
“An Garda Síochána has fully accepted the findings and recommendations of the O’Higgins Commission. We will examine what lessons can be learnt and ensure the issues arising are fully addressed.”
She said the forces “immediate concern” was the victims who have “justification” in believing they were not dealt with properly by gardai.
“We are sorry the victims did not get the service they were entitled to, and we will seek to work with them.”
She said a key element of the force’s future would be to ensure that victims are at the heart of the Garda Service and they get the service they are entitled to.
“In order to ensure a victim centred approach our first steps have been the setting-up of 28 Victim Service Offices throughout the country to keep victims up-to-date on the progress of their case through the justice system and the establishment of the National Protective Services Bureau, which among its work provides support for vulnerable victims. These measures will help ensure we meet our obligations under the EU Victim Rights Directive.”
The Garda Commissioner said An Garda Siochana was learning from past mistakes.
She said improvements in how the force “conducts investigations, manages incidents, trains its personnel, and liaises with victims of crime” have been introduced.
She said she was “legally precluded” from discussing any deatils of any proceedings before the O'Higgins Commission.
"The witnesses who gave evidence before the Commission did so on the expectation that their evidence, except as may be included in the final report, would remain private."
Newly appointed Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Simon Coveney said he welcomed the statement.
"She's made a very clear statement," he said on RTE's Claire Byrne Live tonight.
"I've huge time for her, I think we should take her at her word.... Let's wait to see how people react tomorrow."