Saturday 17 March 2018

Noirin O'Sullivan 'tried to get false rape allegation heard at tribunal'

Maurice and Lorraine McCabe: have raised further questions for Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan. Photo: Barry Cronin
Maurice and Lorraine McCabe: have raised further questions for Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan. Photo: Barry Cronin
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

Whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe has alleged that lawyers for Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan sought to introduce the false allegation of rape at the recently concluded O'Higgins Commission in a bid to "discredit" his motives and testimony.

Sgt McCabe yesterday said the attempts by the lawyers to raise the sexual assault smear were made "repeatedly".

He said this is evident in the transcript of the commission, a copy of which is in possession of Tánaiste and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald.

The claims, made in a four-page statement released by Sgt McCabe and his wife Lorraine, will raise further questions for Commissioner O'Sullivan as to her level of knowledge of the alleged smear campaign.

"For example, against the background of the current Tusla controversy, the entirely false allegation made against Maurice was repeatedly the subject of attempts at introduction in the proceedings for the purpose of discrediting his motives and testimony," the statement says.

It comes as the McCabes strongly attacked plans for the judge-led commission of investigation to be held in private.

Read more: McCabe family's call for public inquiry to get 'fair hearing' at Cabinet

The couple said they and their five children had been "systematically attacked in a number of ways" by State agencies and people working for the State.

They have also posed several questions for Garda management in relation to the events that followed the creation of the false Tusla file. They asked whether present and former members of the Government could outline whether they were briefed, informally or formally, of the nature of the allegations.

Significantly, the family said any future inquiry into the alleged smear campaign by Garda management should be held in public.

The statement quotes Health Minister Simon Harris as saying the family are entitled to truth and justice.

"We wish to make it clear that we are definitely not agreeable to that entitlement being wholly postponed so that another Commission of Inquiry can conduct a secret investigation behind closed doors and make a report, into which we have no input as of right, in nine or 18 months' time. We are entitled to the truth - justice can follow in its wake," the statement says.

"Now that the truth has emerged of the false and shocking campaign to vilify us and discredit us, there is no reason to have any secret or private inquiry under the 2004 Act."

Asked to respond to the claims made in the statement, An Garda Síochána said: "Commissioner O'Sullivan has previously commended Sgt McCabe for his work and on Friday of last week said her thoughts were with the McCabe family.

Read more: 'I have waited a long time for this decision to be  made' - Garda Whistleblower David Taylor cleared by DPP of leaking information and reinstated

"The Garda Commissioner issued a statement earlier today. There is no plan to issue a further statement at this time."

The Cabinet was due to meet today to agree an expanded version of the terms of reference for the inquiry due to be led by Judge Peter Charleton.

However, the statement released through the McCabe family's lawyers makes clear their opposition to such an inquiry due to it being held in private.

Fianna Fáil, the Labour Party and Sinn Féin last night said they supported the call for a public inquiry. The Taoiseach has indicated he is open to such a move, which will be discussed by Cabinet ministers.

However, sources across the political spectrum warned against any moves that could lead to a tribunal-type inquiry that could last years.

The issue looks set to be voted upon in the Dáil after the Social Democrats tabled a motion calling for the establishment of such an inquiry.

Irish Independent

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