Saturday 19 August 2017

McCabe family welcome public inquiry into whistleblower 'smear campaign'

Garda Sgt Maurice McCabe and his wife Lorraine photographed at their home on the Cavan/Meath border. Photo: Barry Cronin
Garda Sgt Maurice McCabe and his wife Lorraine photographed at their home on the Cavan/Meath border. Photo: Barry Cronin

Ed Carty, Press Association

The Government has been forced into holding a public inquiry into an alleged smear campaign against whistleblower Sergeant Maurice McCabe.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny confirmed the Cabinet has agreed in principle to set up a tribunal into the scandal of unfounded and false sex abuse claims being peddled against the respected officer.

The decision was taken after Mr McCabe and his wife Lorraine said they would not accept any investigation into the controversy being held behind closed doors.

On Tuesday the McCabe family, in a statement to RTÉ news, welcomed the inquiry and said they would wait until the publication of the full terms of reference before making further comment.

In the Dáil chamber Mr Kenny said:

"There's nothing worse in this country than to be called a sex abuser, nothing worse."

The terms of reference of the tribunal have not been finalised but Mr Kenny said the primary function will be to establish if there had been an organised smear campaign targeting Mr McCabe by senior garda.

"Sergeant McCabe and his family deserve, as do others, the fairness and justice that will come from a tribunal of inquiry," Mr Kenny said.

The allegations to be investigated in the judge-led inquiry will be decided over the coming days.

"The issue here is there is any issue of truth and justice that needs to determined. It's a very sensitive and serious public matter now, the way to do that is to have the cooperation of everybody," the Taoiseach said.

"There isn't any point in having some private investigation or commission if the McCabe family are not willing to participate in it."

In a lengthy statement on Monday, Sgt McCabe accused Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan of privately discrediting him while publicly declaring her support over his horrific ordeal.

The officer claimed the police chief's lawyers set out to discredit him at the O'Higgins Commission which investigated and vindicated a series of allegations by Mr McCabe of negligence in policing in the Cavan-Monaghan district.

Ms O'Sullivan again insisted she played no role in the peddling of false rumours of child sex abuse against Mr McCabe in order to blacken his name for exposing wrongdoing in the force.

The McCabes set out a number of questions they want answers to. They include a demand that the Taoiseach, Justice Minister and Children's Minister and other members of government disclose if they were ever "briefed formally or informally" about the false abuse allegations.

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