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Thursday 14 December 2017

Exclusive: Grotesque, Unbelievable, Bizarre, Unprecedented – New twist in McCabe saga revealed

Exclusive: New twist in McCabe saga, McGuinness to make explosive claims, Callinan: I'm advised to stay silent

Whistleblower: Garda Sergeant Maurice McCabe Photo: Tom Burke
Whistleblower: Garda Sergeant Maurice McCabe Photo: Tom Burke
Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

Shocking new failures by Tusla are revealed in an internal review of the Child and Family Agency's handling of false child sex abuse allegations against Garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe, the Sunday Independent has learned.

An internal audit, which has been seen by this newspaper, found that the agency failed to contact or establish the credibility of the alleged victim before launching a child sex abuse investigation into Sgt McCabe.

"It is also not clear as to why a decision to proceed with the allegation was made without the cooperation and corroboration of the alleged victim and without having formed some opinion with regard the credibility of the allegation that was referred," the report states.

It also reveals that there is "no evidence on file" that the sex abuse allegations were communicated to the HSE by an Garda Siochana when the claims were first made in 2006. The report specifically notes that Sgt McCabe was "not afforded fair procedures" with regard to the allegations made against him. Tusla has since apologised to Sgt McCabe and his family.

Meanwhile, Fianna Fail TD John McGuinness has stated for the first time that former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan detailed false child abuse allegations about the Garda whistleblower when they secretly met in a car park in January 2014.

Asked if the new allegations match what was said to him by Callinan, McGuinness said: "They do." However, he refused to give further details due to the forthcoming commission of investigation.

Last night, Martin Callinan insisted he would not be "engaging" publicly on the issue.

"I am in receipt of your correspondence, hand delivered to my home this afternoon and which I received at 3.30pm, a copy of which is attached. I have been advised that it would be entirely inappropriate for me to engage publicly with any matter which is the subject of commission of investigation," he said

"In not so engaging I must point out that it is not to be taken as agreement with the content of any matters raised in your correspondence," he added.

It is also understood Mr McGuinness will make explosive new claims about the alleged smear campaign during the commission of investigation.

Last night Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tanaiste Frances Fitzgerald refused to say when they first heard the child abuse rumours about Sgt McCabe which were widespread in political circles for the past two years. The Taoiseach and Tanaiste released almost identical statements when asked when they heard about the allegations, which will be the focus of Mr Justice Peter Charleton's commission of investigation which was established last week. Spokesmen for both said they deal with "facts not rumours".

The Independent Alliance is understood to be seriously concerned about the controversy and has decided not to comment until it receives a full briefing at Cabinet.

The Government is now expected to face a motion of no confidence next week, tabled by Sinn Fein.

The audit prepared by Tusla's Sexual Assault Review Team was initiated after it emerged a senior social worker wrote to Sgt McCabe in December 2015 telling him he was to be the subject of a child abuse investigation.

It has since emerged that the investigation was based on inaccurate information which was supposed to have been removed from Tulsa's database months before the investigation was established.

The review also reveals that the HSE was never contacted by gardai when a previous allegation was made against him by the daughter of a colleague in 2006. Gardai investigated this allegation but the Director of Public Prosecutions ruled there was no evidence of any crime.

"There is no evidence on file that this information was communicated to the HSE social work department at the time by An Garda Siochana. Withstanding that, the HSE would continue to have a statutory duty under Children First policy to investigate all allegations of child abuse referred to its department," the Tusla audit stated.

The same woman told a HSE counsellor in 2013 of the same accusations she made in 2006. However, a file compiled by the counsellor after the meeting incorrectly suggested Sgt McCabe had "digitally penetrated" the woman as a child.

The Sunday Independent understands the counsellor only realised she had accused Sgt McCabe of false sexual abuse claims after gardai contacted the alleged victim. The woman in question told gardai she had not told the counsellor she was "digitally penetrated" by Sgt McCabe as was alleged in the file.

Yesterday, the HSE said the National Counselling Service "responded immediately" in May 2014 and brought the error to the attention of Tusla and An Garda Siochana.

"An immediate internal review of guidelines, practices and protocols was undertaken within the National Counselling Service to ensure that such an error would not recur," it said.

"Appropriate training was also undertaken. Additional supervisory procedures were put in place by the National Counselling Service in relation to the staff member concerned."

The Tusla audit noted there was "no evidence" to suggest the alleged victim met a social worker after she met the counsellor in 2013 or after the file was changed the following year. The review said it was "not clear" why the senior Tusla official looked at the original file rather than the correct version amended in 2014.

The Tusla audit team offered to meet the alleged victim to discus her allegations as part of the review. However, the women failed to attend a scheduled appointment and later called the agency and said she did not want to pursue the matter further, according to the Tusla audit.

Sunday Independent

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