Friday 22 November 2019

Social worker given 'sanitised version' of file in McCabe probe

Clare Tobin, a social worker with Tulsa, gave evidence Photo: Leah Farrell/
Clare Tobin, a social worker with Tulsa, gave evidence Photo: Leah Farrell/

Gerard Cunningham

A social worker with Tusla who was asked to review a file on Garda whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe said she was given "a sanitised version", the Charleton Tribunal heard.

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.

The Tusla file was opened when a young woman identified 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.

Clare Tobin, a social worker with SART - the Sexual Abuse Regional Team in Tusla - was sent the files relating to Sgt McCabe after his solicitors wrote to the agency complaining that he was sent a letter in December 2015 stating he was suspected of child abuse.

However, several documents within the file, which contained a more serious allegation incorrectly added to the McCabe file from an unrelated case, were not included when the file was sent to Ms Tobin.

She said that missing from the file was a record of a meeting where the DPP directed no prosecution of Sgt McCabe in 2007 because "no criminal offence had been described or disclosed".

Tribunal chairman Mr Justice Peter Charleton asked the witness: "Given you know what you now know, do you regard yourself as having been sent a sanitised version of the files as opposed to one with all of the reports, all of the events, all of the contents showing clearly?"

Ms Tobin replied "yes".

"I don't know if it was their intention, I just can't explain it. Stuff wasn't put in the file where it should be.

"It's not unique to this file, unfortunately. This is not just files in the Cavan region. People fail to put things on files unfortunately," she said.

Ms Tobin said she did not know if the files were incomplete due to professional negligence or intentionally.

In a later hearing, Eileen Argue, a social work team leader, told the tribunal 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 then aged over 18.

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 she "wanted to avoid all personal involvement in this as far as you could and produce a misleading account". Ms Argue denied this.

Mr McDowell said 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 once it became apparent the Garda notification was seriously wrong, he could not understand why the events did not stick in Ms Argue's memory. "I can't give an explanation why none of this sticks in my mind," Ms Argue said.

Irish Independent

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