Tuesday 25 April 2017

Here are the six unanswered questions the McCabes have

Sgt Maurice McCabe. Photo: Tom Burke
Sgt Maurice McCabe. Photo: Tom Burke

Niall O'Connor and Cormac McQuinn

In a statement released through their solicitors, Sgt Maurice McCabe and his wife posed a number of questions which they described as "factual".

The questions are as follows:

  • Did a meeting sought by the HSE with gardaí in 2013 take place?
  • Who was the garda or gardaí who engaged in phone conversations with a HSE counsellor about the false rape allegation?
  • Who interviewed the alleged victim in respect of that allegation in May 2014 as claimed by her solicitor?
  • Was any of the foregoing Garda activity reported or recorded within the force?
  • Was any of the foregoing Garda activity notified formally or informally to senior gardaí at commissioner level, and, if not, why not?
  • Was any decision made not to inform Sgt McCabe of the making of the 2013 allegation, and, if so, why and by whom?

In response to the questions last night, An Garda Síochána said:

"Commissioner O'Sullivan has previously commended Sgt McCabe for his work and on Friday of last week said her thoughts were with the McCabe family.

"The Garda Commissioner issued a statement earlier today. There is no plan to issue a further statement at this time."

Why do the McCabes want a public inquiry?

Garda whistleblower Sergeant Maurice McCabe wants a public inquiry into the alleged smear campaign against him, not the commission of investigation proposed by the government.

Such a process would allow witnesses to be called and evidence to be heard in public similar to the tribunals of inquiry, like the Mahon Tribunal which looked into former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern's finances.

In last night's statement from Mr McCabe and his wife Lorraine, they say they want to make it clear that they don't want truth and justice "postponed" by a commission of investigation.

Such a probe "can conduct a secret investigation behind closed doors and make a report, into which we have no input as of right, in nine or 18 months' time," they said.

"We are entitled to the truth - justice can follow in its wake," the statement said.

They refer to the recent O'Higgins Commission, which was held behind closed doors and said the experience was "too fresh in our minds to allow for a repetition."

The statement says because the process was held in private, the public were not given an insight into Sgt McCabe's experience.

It follows reports - that have since been denied - that Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan directed her legal team to discredit Sgt McCabe.

Commissions of investigation are supposed to be less expensive and a speedier method of probing matters of public concern than a tribunal of inquiry.

Under the legislation, a tribunal of inquiry can still be set up after a commission has reported.

Previous commissions of investigation include the examination of the 1974 Dublin and Monaghan Bombings and the investigation into the banking sector after the crash.

Such commissions are required to seek the voluntary cooperation of witnesses but can compel people to give evidence if necessary.

They also have powers to search premises and take documents but are intended to be less adversarial than tribunals. The evidence given in such commissions is private and this is one of the main points of contention for the McCabes.

Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and Labour have all backed their call for a public inquiry.

What is the difference between a Commission of Investigation and a Tribunal of Inquiry?

Senior lecturer in Law at NUI Galway Tom O'Malley outlined the differences between a Commission of Investigation and a Tribunal of Inquiry this morning.

Speaking to RTE Radio One's Morning Ireland, Professor O'Malley said a tribunal is "the only option" if the McCabes wish for the inquiry to be held in a public forum.

"A Commission of Investigation and a Tribunal of Inquiry operate in a largely similar way," he said.,

"And they produce largely the same results.

"However, there are certain differences," he continued.

"Most importantly, a Commission of Investigation would work primarily in private and all proceedings would be in private, albeit there is some provision for some evidence to be heard in public.

"A tribunal would operate in public."

Professor O'Malley said there is "much more scope" for cross-examination of witnesses in a tribunal.

"A tribunal also makes findings based on, if you like, the preponderance of evidence," he said.

"A Commission of Investigation is confined to reporting on the facts it has established, and to be absolutely sure of them. This is a practicl matter.

"Tribunals also tend to go on much longer and do tend to cost more... some have gone on for more than a decade, some have reported on quicker.

"It depends very much on the terms of reference the tribunal has," Professor O'Malley continued.

"The problem with long-running tribunals is they have a very wide terms of reference. I think on this occasion, they will be fairly specific."

Irish Independent

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