Tuesday 20 August 2019

Whistleblower McCabe settles claims against the State for undisclosed sum

End of a nightmare: Maurice McCabe and his wife Lorraine. Photo: Collins
End of a nightmare: Maurice McCabe and his wife Lorraine. Photo: Collins

Allison Bray

Former Garda Sergeant Maurice McCabe has settled his High Court proceedings against the State for an undisclosed sum.

Last night, a Justice Department official confirmed the Garda whistleblower agreed to a confidential settlement following mediation with State officials.

"An agreed settlement of these legal actions has now been reached through mediation. The settlement agreement is confidential and no further comment will be made in that regard," a spokesperson for the department told the Irish Independent.

Sean Costello, the McCabe family solicitor, told RTÉ last night: "All the litigation has been resolved to their satisfaction. Maurice and Lorraine and their family are happy to be able to move on now and leave all of this behind them."

Mr McCabe, who retired from An Garda Síochána last October, had brought numerous High Court proceedings against State officials, including former Garda commissioner Martin Callinan, the Justice Minister and the Attorney General as well as child and family agency Tusla.

He retired from the force after 30 years' service a number of weeks after the Disclosures Tribunal, led by Mr Justice Peter Charleton, published its report exonerating the Cavan-based sergeant.

He also thanked Mr McCabe for his "considerable service" to the State.

The tribunal found former Garda commissioner Martin Callinan and superintendent David Taylor - formerly head of the Garda press office - had engaged in a smear campaign against Mr McCabe.

In February, the High Court was told the State was to write an "open letter" to Mr McCabe and his legal team to see whether any of the legal actions against the State could be resolved through mediation.

Mr McCabe's lawyers had filed a motion at the time seeking a judgment against the parties over their alleged failure to file a defence to his claims.

Gerald Meehan Bl, for the State defendants, had said his clients had not filed a defence as it would not help bring the sides together in a bid to see if a "conciliatory mediation" could take place.

Counsel said the proposed mediation would involve all cases taken against the State by Mr McCabe.

He said such mediation would not just be in the interests of all parties involved but in the "public interest" as well.

State officials would not comment on when the mediation took place, nor would they disclose the amount of the settlement reached.

However, the Justice Department said the Government fully acknowledges the findings of the disclosures tribunal since the report was published in October 2018.

"The Government has made it clear its full acceptance of the report and the failings it identified," the spokesperson said in a statement.

"The Minister for Justice and Equality met with former Sergeant McCabe and his wife Lorraine in November and apologised on behalf of the State for the manner in which he was treated," the statement read. "As had been stated previously, the minister and the Government's clear wish was to ensure that the legal actions initiated by former Sergeant McCabe against the State were settled as quickly as possible to the satisfaction of Mr McCabe, without the need for litigation before the courts."

In its third interim report, the tribunal chairman found "Sergeant Maurice McCabe, who exemplified hard work in his own calling, was repulsively denigrated for being no more than a good citizen and police officer".

The damning report found that Mr Callinan and Mr Taylor engaged in a defamatory campaign against the whistleblower who highlighted abuses of the penalty points system and other shortcomings by the force. But instead of being lauded by his then commissioner, he was targeted in "a frontal attack" during 2013 and 2014. This was done to "head off" what Mr Callinan said he saw as "the undermining of standards of duty and loyalty to which he had devoted his career".

Irish Independent

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