Saturday 1 October 2016

Garda chief must clear air over McCabe row

Published 18/05/2016 | 02:30

Agriculture Minister Michael Creed has called for “closure” over the fallout from the Higgins report. Photo: Tom Burke
Agriculture Minister Michael Creed has called for “closure” over the fallout from the Higgins report. Photo: Tom Burke

Agriculture Minister Michael Creed has called for "closure" over the fallout from the Higgins report concerning Garda whistleblower Sergeant Maurice McCabe, but these matters are very far from resolved.

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Labour TD Joan Burton, for one, has called on Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan to clarify "comments made by her legal team".

Ms O'Sullivan emphatically denies ever suggesting Sgt McCabe acted with malice. We now know this was the case. However, it is alleged that Mr McCabe's motivations and credibility were indeed challenged by her lawyer.

The reports of plans to question Mr McCabe's standing, even if they were not followed through, require an explanation from Ms O'Sullivan. Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald has full Dáil privilege. She also has a duty to clear up any doubts. Related matters have already resulted in the toppling of one Justice Minister, along with a Garda Commissioner.

Ms O'Sullivan's Monday night statement was intended to clear the air. It hasn't. Why was there ever any need to cast any doubt over the bone fides of Sgt McCabe? Could this be a by-product of our adversarial legal system?

But did the commission not clearly find evidence of extremely poor police work and shoddy treatment of victims, just as Sgt McCabe had claimed? It also found that he had spoken out for all the right reasons. If there are any lingering doubts, it behoves both the minister and the commissioner to address them.

Irish Independent

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