Saturday 24 February 2018

'No malice towards McCabe,' says fellow Garda sergeant

Sgt Tony Byrne at the Disclosures Tribunal in Dublin Castle. Photo: Collins
Sgt Tony Byrne at the Disclosures Tribunal in Dublin Castle. Photo: Collins

Gerard Cunningham

A garda sergeant did not see any malice towards Garda whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe, the Charleton Tribunal has been told.

The tribunal is looking into claims that allegations of sexual abuse were used as part of a smear campaign to undermine the reputation of Sgt McCabe.

On day 10 of the tribunal, Sgt Tony Byrne said he was one of five or six Garda sergeants from different divisions who arrived to work at Bailieborough garda station in 2010.

He said there was a good working atmosphere in the station in the six-and-a-half years he was there.

Asked by tribunal chairman Mr Justice Peter Charleton whether there was any "sense of malice" towards Sgt McCabe, he said Sgt McCabe had left the area when he transferred in. He said he had never experienced it and had never met the sergeant until he saw him at the tribunal.

"I can't say there was any malevolence or malice towards him, I never experienced it," he said.

Witnesses Briege Tinnelly (left) and Pamela Armitage leaving the Disclosures Tribunal. Photo: Collins
Witnesses Briege Tinnelly (left) and Pamela Armitage leaving the Disclosures Tribunal. Photo: Collins

Sgt Tony Byrne was aware of issues regarding complaints from Sgt McCabe "about the standards of policing" in Bailieborough and that there were ongoing Garda inquiries as a result.

He said there had been discussion about the penalty points allegations and Pulse computer records. He had never heard discussion about the abuse allegation.

At the end of the day's hearing, Mr Justice Charleton made a ruling on an earlier application that the evidence of the woman, referred to as Ms D, who made allegations against Sgt McCabe should be held in public.

The woman and her family are due to give evidence next week and lawyers for them sought reporting restrictions. Lawyers for Sgt McCabe argued that her evidence should be held in public.

Mr Justice Charleton ordered that members of the public would be excluded from the tribunal when Ms D and her family gave evidence, and that her identity not be revealed.

Earlier in the day, social worker Briege Tinnelly said that in August 2013 she took a phone call from counsellor Laura Brophy, and recorded details regarding Ms D.

She said she was never told there was an error in a subsequent written report from Ms Brophy, and first became aware of the error when it was reported on RTÉ 'Prime Time' in 2017.

Pamela Armitage, a clerical administrator, said that when she got a e call from Ms Brophy alerting her to the error in May 2014, she notified Eileen Argue, the social work team leader.

Dr Gerard O'Neill, director of counselling, HSE South-east, told the tribunal that copies of the report containing erroneous allegations were received by his offices on May 2, 2014. He said the office was later told of errors, and received a corrected file at the end of the month, on May 28. He said the file containing incorrect information was then shredded.

The tribunal is looking into the creation and distribution of files by Tusla and the HSE containing false allegations against the sergeant, which were created in 2013.

A file was created when Ms D sought counselling in 2013, seven years after she first made allegations in 2006. The tribunal has heard how a "catastrophic error" led to much more serious allegations from a Ms Y being wrongly attributed to Ms D.

Irish Independent

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