Thursday 19 April 2018

McCabe's concerns were 'legitimate' but 'overstated', says report

Claims made by Sgt McCabe in relation to an alleged assault in a pub were found to be 'factually incorrect'.
Claims made by Sgt McCabe in relation to an alleged assault in a pub were found to be 'factually incorrect'.

Shane Phelan, Philip Ryan and Kevin Doyle

A report on the handling of certain garda investigations in the Cavan-Monaghan region has rejected many allegations made by whistleblower Sergeant Maurice McCabe.

Senior gardaí at the centre of allegations were cleared of wrongdoing in the commission of investigation report by former High Court judge Kevin O'Higgins.

According to sources with knowledge of the unpublished document, it says some of the claims Sgt McCabe made in relation to investigations and how they were conducted were "inaccurate", "overstated", "unfounded" or "without foundation".

Details he provided relating to certain cases were also said to be "exaggerated".

However, Mr Justice Higgins is said to have found that Sgt McCabe lodged the complaints because he had genuine and legitimate concerns about investigations carried out by gardaí in the district.

Sgt McCabe is said to be described in the report as courageous and to have provided a public service in highlighting issues at a considerable cost to himself.

It is said to have found he is a man of integrity who the public could trust in his duty as a garda.

However, it is also noted that some of the allegations he made against senior gardaí were entirely unfounded and were both damaging and hurtful to those they were made against.

The report was delivered to acting Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald on Monday and she told a Cabinet meeting that Attorney General Máire Whelan was assessing whether its publication could affect any ongoing criminal cases.

Acting Taoiseach Enda Kenny has also been provided with a copy of the report, but the Cabinet did not discuss its contents in detail yesterday.

The commission was set up in December 2014 following on from a preliminary review conducted by barrister Sean Guerin into allegations made by Sgt McCabe.

The allegations were contained in a dossier provided to Mr Kenny by Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin.

Mr Guerin's report identified 11 key deficiencies in the operation of the garda force and said allegations about the handling of certain cases required further investigation.

It also criticised former justice minister Alan Shatter, the Department of Justice, An Garda Síochána and the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission for "not heeding the voice" of Sgt McCabe.

Mr Shatter resigned following the publication of the report and unsuccessfully challenged certain findings in the High Court.

However, it is understood both Mr Shatter and the former garda commissioner Martin Callinan have both been cleared of any wrongdoing in their handling of allegations of corruption and malpractice within the force.

The report is also said to have found there were organisational failings, but no evidence of criminal conduct or corruption by gardaí.

The judge raised concerns over some details provided to the commission by Sgt McCabe which were found to be inaccurate.

This is understood to include allegations of shortcomings in the investigation of a supposed attempted sexual assault.

The report is said to have found that this was an exaggeration of the situation and that there was no evidence of either an attempted rape or sexual assault disclosed in the victim's statement.

Sgt McCabe is said to have accepted in evidence to the commission that his description of the incident was inaccurate.

Claims made by Sgt McCabe in relation to an alleged assault in a pub were found to be "factually incorrect", it is also understood.

Concerns are also believed to have been raised by Mr Justice O'Higgins in the report over delays in garda files being presented to the commission.

Fianna Fáil justice spokesman Niall Collins said the report dealt with issues of vital importance to the operation of the justice system and called on Ms Fitzgerald to publish the report "as soon as possible".

It is understood Ms Fitzgerald anticipates publishing the report, possibly with redactions, within 10 days.

Irish Independent

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