Thursday 21 November 2019

Charleton tribunal: Senior Tusla executive denies cover-up over false abuse allegation against McCabe

Maurice McCabe at the Disclosures Tribunal in Dublin Castle. Photo: Collins
Maurice McCabe at the Disclosures Tribunal in Dublin Castle. Photo: Collins

Gerrard Cunningham

A senior Tusla executive has denied there was a cover-up after a false allegation of sexual abuse was placed in a file against garda whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe.

The agency's chief operations officer Jim Gibson also told the Charleton tribunal, which is looking at claims of a smear campaign against Sgt McCabe, that he wasn't aware of any evidence of improper garda meddling in the case.

"We as an agency have stated clearly in January of this year that we made serious case management mistakes," Mr Gibson said.

In 2006 Ms D made an allegation that she had been sexually assaulted by Sgt McCabe in 1998. After an investigation the DPP decided that the allegation would not constitute an offence. A Tusla file on Sgt McCabe was subsequently opened after Ms D sought counselling in 2013, to which more serious allegations from an unrelated case were incorrectly added.

Mr Gibson said the case was characterised by failures in governance and oversight.

"This isn't just a series of lapses," said Michael McDowell SC, representing Sgt McCabe. "This is a deliberate decision not to inquire as to how this had gone so catastrophically wrong."

Mr McDowell said that there seemed to be "an absolute determination to put nothing on the record as to what went wrong" and that Tusla area manager Gerard Lowry erred in not reporting the case to his superiors.

Mr Gibson said this was not correct. "The Child and Family Agency was not involved in a cover-up," he said.

"To insinuate that Gerry Lowry or any one else was involved in a cover-up is not evidenced in my opinion."

Mr McDowell said “we would have a clearer picture of what happened” if an explanation had been demanded by Mr Lowry when the error was uncovered.

Mr Gibson told the tribunal he was not aware of any evidence of improper garda involvement or interfering or meddling in the case.

"I'm assured by management involved in this case that there was no evidence of such behaviour," he said.

Mr Gibson said he was disappointed that the case had not been escalated "given the profile of the subject".

He said Mr Lowry "made a professional decision not to escalate it with the national office."

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