Wednesday 13 December 2017

Furious family of whistleblower say HSE apology was 'shocking and false'

Official left voicemail for sergeant over statement

Taoiseach Enda Kenny pictured shaking hands with Garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe on a traffic island in Mullingar, Co Westmeath, where Sgt McCabe was directing traffic
Taoiseach Enda Kenny pictured shaking hands with Garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe on a traffic island in Mullingar, Co Westmeath, where Sgt McCabe was directing traffic
Luke Byrne

Luke Byrne

The family of Garda whistleblower Sergeant Maurice McCabe have hit out at the HSE for releasing a statement of apology over the weekend, which they say contained false information.

It has also emerged the HSE left a voicemail for Sgt McCabe yesterday, in which he was told officials wanted to contact him in order to discuss the statement issued on Saturday.

The brave whistleblower's wife, Lorraine McCabe, said the original statement was "more annoyance" and accused the HSE of being unprofessional and failing to contact the family ahead of its publication.

In the Saturday release, the HSE said that once an "error" was discovered, in which Sgt McCabe was wrongly accused of sexual assault, the "correct procedure" was followed.

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

However, after learning the details of the apology, the McCabes contacted officials from Health Minister Simon Harris's department saying they rejected both the statement and the apology.

Simon Harris says Sgt McCabe deserves ‘truth and justice’. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Simon Harris says Sgt McCabe deserves ‘truth and justice’. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

"The HSE statement is wrong and it is not good enough," they told the official.

The family said it was in possession of a file that contradicted the statement and that it was "shocking" they again had to listen to "false information".

In response to this, the HSE released a new statement yesterday in which it said the original release tried to bring "clarity" around "certain aspects" of the McCabe story.

Read more: HSE apologises 'unreservedly' to Maurice McCabe over false sex abuse allegations made against him

It said the story had been "covered extensively in the media" following an RTÉ programme which revealed an alleged "administrative error" at the child and family agency Tusla led to the false accusation against Sgt McCabe.

"Within this statement was an apology from the HSE for an administrative error that led to considerable distress to Sgt McCabe and his family.

"The HSE is in the process of preparing a more formal apology to Sgt McCabe and his family," it said.

The executive then went into detail about its attempts to contact Sgt McCabe over the weekend.

"At 11am today (Sunday) the HSE became aware of a text that was sent by Sgt McCabe outlining issues that he had with the HSE's statement.

"The HSE immediately convened a meeting in order to discuss his concerns and to put in place a process for contacting Sgt McCabe," it said.

"Telephone contact was made between 11am and 1pm and a voicemail left for Sgt McCabe.

"The HSE wishes to talk to Sgt McCabe in order to discuss the statement that we issued and any issues that he may have in relation to the information contained therein."

It also said the HSE based its statement on the best available information it had and pointed out it did not have access to the Tusla file, referred to by Sgt McCabe.

A statement from Mr Harris's department said he believed Sgt McCabe has done the State some service and "deserves truth and justice".

"(The minister) understands that the HSE is endeavouring to make contact with Sergeant McCabe to meet with him," it added.

On December 29, 2015, Sgt McCabe first learned of the accusations against him, when a social worker in child protection wrote to him, saying he was being investigated for sexual abuse.

On June 20 last year, the same worker wrote to him to say that a mistake had been made and there was no allegation against him.

The mistake was the result of "an administrative error" in which a counsellor copied and pasted a line containing the false allegation into the whistleblower's file erroneously.

The file was sent to gardaí in 2013 and he was not informed that it contained the allegation.

Irish Independent

Promoted Links

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News