Thursday 19 September 2019

Absence of records from whistleblower file 'looked like a cover-up', social worker tells Charleton tribunal

Garda Sergeant Maurice McCabe Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Garda Sergeant Maurice McCabe Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

Gerard Cunningham

A Tusla social worker has told the Charleton tribunal that the absence of records from a file on whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe looked like a cover-up, but she could not say who was responsible.

The tribunal is examining claims that allegations of sexual abuse were used as part of a campaign to smear and undermine the reputation of Sgt McCabe. The DPP decided against pressing charges in the case due to lack of evidence in the case in 2007.

Lisa O'Loghlen, a regional social work team leader, reviewed the file of Sgt McCabe as part of an exercise in 2016 to look as unallocated files in Tusla offices for a Sexual Abuse Review Team (SART).

Tribunal barrister Pat Marrinan SC said that it appeared documents had been removed from the files Ms O'Loghlen reviewed before she was given the file to audit.

The files related to how a serious allegation of sexual assault relating to a different case was mistakenly attributed to Sgt McCabe.

The barrister asked if it was possible somebody deliberately removed documents from the file to cover up substantial errors that had been made.

Ms O'Loghlen said that it was possible also that the documents had never been added to the file in the first place before she received it.

Tribunal chairman Mr Justice Peter Charleton that "weird is not the word" if it was the case that the missing documents were all added to the file later, before it was handed over to the tribunal. He asked the witness if there could have been a cover-up.

"Its looks that way to me," Ms O'Loghlen said. "I can't say who."

She said she did not think there was a cover-up involving An Garda Siochana, but the cover-up would be Tusla covering its own mistakes.

In a report on the case, Ms O'Loghlen wrote that fair procedures had not been followed in investigating the allegations against Sgt McCabe, and the sergeant had "a strong argument that procedures have been dealt with inappropriately”.

Ms O'Loghlen said that the file of Sgt McCabe "stood out to us as one of the worst managed in the region" before she began her audit.

Paul Anthony McDermott SC on behalf of Tusla, said that insofar as the word cover up was used, a file was given to SART, they immediately saw problems, and immediately said that Mr McCabe hadn't been given fair procedures.

The tribunal has adjourned and will resume later in the year to begin the next module of its inquiries.

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