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Saturday 17 March 2018

Agency boss apologises but answers in short supply

'There was widespread resentment among gardai who worked hard and diligently and deserved but never got promotion/'
'There was widespread resentment among gardai who worked hard and diligently and deserved but never got promotion/'
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

Tusla chief executive Fred McBride issued a written apology to Garda whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe over the "clerical error" which led to the circulation of a false sex abuse allegation against him.

The child and family agency has also launched an internal review after admitting "mistakes have been made". The results of the review are to be made public.

In a bizarre twist, Fianna Fáil TD John McGuinness told RTÉ News that the apology was delivered to Mr McCabe's next-door neighbour and subsequently passed on to the family.

The agency said it would "take whatever steps are required to ensure that nothing like it happens again".

However, answers were in short supply as to how a sexual abuse allegation was erroneously "cut and pasted" into a file about Sgt McCabe.

The agency would not say if the error had been reported to the Data Protection Commissioner, or if gardaí had been asked to determine whether or not an offence had been committed by a Tusla employee.

It also declined to provide details of the "mistakes" it referred to in a statement expressing regret.

Mr McBride said he had issued a written apology and had offered to meet Sgt McCabe personally to explain what had happened. Mr McBride denied that Tusla had been involved in any sort of collusion with gardaí on the issue. He said he had absolutely no evidence to suggest that this was the case.

Mr McBride also said Tusla had passed information to the Department of Children last month, within days of becoming aware the error had been made.

In a statement, the agency said it was prohibited from commenting on individual cases due to data protection and Constitutional rights.

"Taking an overall view of this situation, however, it is clear to us that mistakes have been made. On this basis, we have commenced an internal review and will co-operate fully with any Commission of Inquiry if requested," it said. "Although we cannot comment on the details of this individual case, we can confirm that we are in the process of apologising fully to the individual involved.

"It is important to note that when we receive allegations from a child, or from an adult reflecting on when they were a child, that we are obliged to carry out a complete assessment.

"We also accept that because of the nature and complexity of these situations, the systems and processes involved in doing this need to be extremely robust.

"In this case, it appears there were some failures and these are the subject of our internal review, the conclusions of which will be made public."

Irish Independent

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