Monday 18 December 2017

Incompetence and not 'something sinister' led to false rape allegation against whistle blower, tribunal told

Sergeant Maurice McCabe. Photo: Collins
Sergeant Maurice McCabe. Photo: Collins

Gerard Cunningham

A senior Tusla manager has told the Charleton Tribunal that it was incompetence and not “something sinister” that led to a false rape allegation being made against garda whistle blower Sgt Maurice McCabe.

Linda Creamer, a regional service director with the child and family agency, apologised to the McCabe family for the stress they have endured.

The tribunal is looking into the creation and distribution of files by Tusla and the HSE containing false allegations against Sgt McCabe and whether he was the target of a smear campaign.

A Tusla file on Sgt McCabe was opened when a young woman, referred to as Ms D, sought counselling in 2013 about a previously reported allegation investigated by gardaí in 2006. The DPP decided in 2007 against pressing charges in the case due to lack of evidence.

In December 2014, a letter was sent to Sgt McCabe outlining separate allegations from a completely unrelated case, which were incorrectly put in his file.

Ms Creamer told tribunal chairman, Mr Justice Peter Charleton she had been present for the last week listening to evidence.  She said that Tusla was in a major transition programme but that this was not to excuse anything that had occurred with Sgt McCabe and his family.

"We are genuinely sorry for the McCabe family to go through such stress, to see such a letter at any time is unacceptable.

"Tusla is in the business of putting families together, not separating them as this could have done," Ms Creamer said.

She said she did not believe there was "something sinister going on" in relation to Sgt McCabe.

"I believe it's incompetence in the governance of the file," she said.

Ms Creamer said that people often saw a file as a series of tasks and didn't see the faces and the families behind the documents.

Ms Eileen Argue, a social work team leader, told the tribunal that she did not recall any of the events in May 2014, when a garda notification file containing the false allegations was created.

Records were also opened on Sgt McCabe's children, two of whom were aged over 18 by then.

Ms Argue said would not have been her practice at that time to open records on children who were over 18.

Mr Michael McDowell SC, on behalf of Sgt McCabe, said Ms Argue had "a very defective memory in relation to these events."

He put it to Ms Argue that she “wanted to avoid all personal involvement in this as far as you could and produce a misleading account."

Ms Argue said she did not accept that.

Mr McDowell said that the reason the garda notification was created was because of a post-it note written by Ms Argue, which directed social worker Laura Connolly to prepare a notification.

Mr McDowell said that once it became apparent that the garda notification was seriously wrong, he could not understand why the events did not stick in Ms Argue's memory.

"Your agency accused a man of a rape offence in the wrong to his superiors," Mr McDowell said.

"I can't give an explanation why none of this sticks in my mind," Ms Argue said.

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