Saturday 15 December 2018

Minister issues State apology to Sgt McCabe

Whistleblower Garda Sergeant Maurice McCabe was praised. Picture: Collins
Whistleblower Garda Sergeant Maurice McCabe was praised. Picture: Collins
Wayne O'Connor

Wayne O'Connor

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan has issued a State apology to Garda whistleblower Sergeant Maurice McCabe.

The apology came after the Disclosures Tribunal found that Sgt McCabe had been smeared by former Garda commissioner Martin Callinan, and the former Garda press officer, Superintendent David Taylor.

Meanwhile, Mr Flanagan defended another former Garda commissioner, Nóirín O'Sullivan, in the wake of the tribunal, saying she was subjected to "personalised attacks" from Oireachtas members during her tenure.

He said Ms O'Sullivan regularly appeared at Oireachtas committees where questions "crossed the line".

Mr Flanagan reinforced his apology to Sgt McCabe in the Dáil yesterday and said he intends to meet the sergeant in the coming weeks to make the apology again in person.

"Sgt Maurice McCabe deserves the gratitude of all of us for bringing serious shortcomings to public attention," Mr Flanagan told the Dáil yesterday.

"He also deserves an apology for what he and his family has had to endure over a decade.

"I have apologised on behalf of the State to him and his family for the manner in which he was treated over a number of years and I am arranging to meet the sergeant in the near future.

"I want to reiterate this apology to him in person."

In his report released last week, the tribunal's chairman, Mr Justice Peter Charleton, was heavily critical of An Garda Síochána and the treatment of Sgt McCabe, who had highlighted abuses of the penalty points system and poor policing practices in the Cavan-Monaghan Garda district.

Mr Justice Charleton said Sgt McCabe had been "repulsively denigrated for being no more than a good citizen and police officer".

Yesterday, Mr Flanagan described the chairman's findings as "stark". "The central conclusion that it reached is that a man who rightly saw loyalty to the people who he served as superior to any loyalty to the organisation of which he was part, a man who at all times had the interests of the public uppermost in his mind," he said.

"My sincere hope is that he, his wife Lorraine and their family, can now put this horrendous and prolonged ordeal behind them and get on with their lives."

Of Ms O'Sullivan, the Mr Flanagan said she "was the subject of a concerted campaign to undermine her position over a period of time".

He also criticised how she had been questioned during Oireachtas committee meetings.

"During her tenure as commissioner, Nóirín O'Sullivan was frequently before Oireachtas committees and subjected to questions that sometimes crossed the line that divides robust inquiry from personalised attack," he said.

"While I accept that the Oireachtas has a vital role in ensuring accountability, it is incumbent on all of us as elected representatives not to abuse the responsible positions we hold."

Mr Flanagan also referred to the tribunal's findings that Frances Fitzgerald acted appropriately before she was forced to resign as Tánaiste and justice minister last year because of controversy surrounding her role.

"On a personal basis, I would like to say that Frances Fitzgerald is a loss to the Cabinet and I do not believe that her resignation served any public interest - though it may have served the political interests of some parties...I hope to see Frances returned to high office in the near future."

Irish Independent

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