Sunday 24 September 2017

Taoiseach and Tánaiste 'knew about Zappone's meeting with whistleblower - but did not know about Tusla blunder'

'Zappone of course did not inform me about any details in relation to confidential Tusla records' - Tánaiste

Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald Picture: Collins
Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald Picture: Collins
Analysis: Frances Fitzgerald. Photo: Arthur Carron

Kevin Doyle and Niall O'Connor

The Taoiseach and Tánaiste knew about a meeting between Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone and garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe – but insist they were not aware that Tusla held an inaccurate file on Sgt McCabe.

In a statement this evening, Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald said she knew that her colleague, Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone, planned to meet with Mr McCabe – but added: “She of course did not inform me about any details in relation to confidential Tusla records.”

It came after Ms Zappone issued a statement stating she “informed relevant Government colleagues” of the copy and paste blunder involving Sergeant McCabe.

The minister, who is currently in the United States, has refused to say who those government colleagues are.

There has been widespread shock after it emerged a false file containing allegations of child sexual abuse remained on the TUSLA database for almost two years - without the knowledge of the McCabe family.

Ms Fitzgerald has now said that she was informed me in January that Ms Zappone intended to meet with Sgt McCabe.

Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone. Photo: Tom Burke
Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone. Photo: Tom Burke

“She of course did not inform me about any details in relation to confidential Tusla records,” Ms Fitzgerald said.

An inquiry is being set up by the Government into an alleged smear campaign against Sgt McCabe.

Whistleblower Maurice McCabe outside Leinster House in 2014 Photo: Tom Burke
Whistleblower Maurice McCabe outside Leinster House in 2014 Photo: Tom Burke

“The Terms of Reference of the proposed Commission put before the Oireachtas by me refer specifically to a complaint of criminal misconduct against Sgt McCabe and whether this allegation was used against him,” the Tánaiste said.

“I have always been scrupulous to avoid any comment in the Dáil on what was at issue in the criminal complaint against Sgt. McCabe, referred to in the terms of reference.

Sergeant Maurice McCabe Photo: Tom Burke
Sergeant Maurice McCabe Photo: Tom Burke

“Had I put into the public domain anything which indicated or implied the nature of the complaint against Sgt McCabe I would be rightly open to criticism,” the Tánaiste said.

She added: “At the heart of the issues to be examined by the Commission is whether senior Gardaí were involved in a campaign to use information to damage Sgt McCabe.

“I agreed to take on board amendments designed to put beyond doubt that the examination of any smear campaign would not be confined.”

Fianna Fáil TD John McGuinness spoke on RTE's Six One News this evening and said a criminal investigation is needed into how the Tusla file was created and by whom.

Mr McGuinness also said that Tusla's apology to Mr McCabe was today delivered to his next door neighbour and then passed on to the family.

Online Editors

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News