Monday 24 July 2017

HSE apologises 'unreservedly' to Maurice McCabe over false sex abuse allegations made against him

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

Philip Ryan

The Health Service Executive has issued an apology to garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe over false sex abuse allegations made against him.

The counsellor who filed false accusations of sexual abuse against Sgt McCabe was working for the HSE when the claims were made in 2013.

"In line with process, the HSE’s National Counselling Service referred this allegation to HSE’s Child Protection Services (now Tusla)," read the statement released on Saturday afternoon.

"The HSE wishes to confirm that there was an administrative error made by a staff member of the HSE’s National Counselling Service in the referral made at that time (August 2013)."

The administrative error was brought to the attention of the National Counselling Service in May 2014, according to the statement.

"The HSE is satisfied that correct procedure was followed once this error was brought to the attention of the National Counselling Service," the statement read.

"The HSE apologises unreservedly to Mr. McCabe and his family for the distress caused on foot of this error. The HSE is making arrangements to offer this apology formally to Mr. McCabe as soon as possible."

Child and Family agency Tusla yesterday informed the HSE that the counsellor who compiled the file on Sgt McCabe and his family was working for the health service at the time.

In the past 24 hours, the HSE has sought to establish the chain of events which resulted in the counsellor forwarding a file on Sgt McCabe to Tusla.

Read more: Taoiseach and Tánaiste leave Zappone isolated as Cabinet left struggling with Tusla crisis

It has since emerged the allegations in the file were completely false.  Gardai were alerted to the false accusations but did not seek to interview Sgt McCabe or his family despite the gravity of the allegations.

After it was established that the there was no substance to the allegations, the file remained on Tusla’s data base for more than a year.

Sgt McCabe first became aware of the file when he received a letter from Tusla in 2015 informing him he was to be interviewed by a social worker over child safety concerns. However, at the time, it had already been established that he allegations were false.

Earlier this week, Tusla has issued Sgt McCabe and his family an apology.

Full HSE statement below:

In July 2013 there was an allegation of retrospective abuse made against Garda Sgt. Maurice McCabe. In line with process, the HSE’s National Counselling Service referred this allegation to HSE’s Child Protection Services (now Tusla). This matter has been reported quite extensively in the media over the past 48 hours.

The HSE wishes to confirm that there was an administrative error made by a staff member of the HSE’s National Counselling Service in the referral made at that time (August 2013).

This administrative error was brought to the attention of the National Counselling Service in May 2014.

The National Counselling Service responded immediately in May 2014 by bringing this error and a corrected report to the attention of Tusla and an Garda Siochana. In line with usual process, the error was brought to the attention of the HSE’s Regional Manager for Data Protection and Consumer Affairs. The National Counselling Service would have had no further involvement in this matter once the corrected report was provided to Tusla and an Garda.

The HSE is satisfied that correct procedure was followed once this error was brought to the attention of the National Counselling Service.

An immediate internal review of guidelines, practices and protocols was undertaken within the National Counselling Service to ensure that such an error would not reoccur. Appropriate training was also undertaken. Additional supervisory procedures were put in place by the National Counselling Service in relation to the staff member concerned.

The HSE apologises unreservedly to Mr. McCabe and his family for the distress caused on foot of this error. The HSE is making arrangements to offer this apology formally to Mr. McCabe as soon as possible.

The HSE will fully co-operate with any Inquiry or Investigation into this matter.

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