Tuesday 23 January 2018

'McCabe treatment at inquiry must be investigated' - FF

Mr Justice Peter Charleton may not preside over the planned tribunal Photo: Tom Burke
Mr Justice Peter Charleton may not preside over the planned tribunal Photo: Tom Burke
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Fianna Fáil wants the Tribunal of Inquiry into the alleged smear campaign against Garda whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe to include his treatment during the previous O'Higgins Commission.

The Government is considering what the terms of reference of the probe will be, with the Cabinet set to meet again as early as today to discuss plans for the tribunal.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny told the Dáil that he wanted the draft terms of reference to be drawn up within two days and for the framework for the tribunal to be passed by both houses of the Oireachtas this week.

No decision has yet been taken as to whether the tribunal will investigate cases involving other Garda whistleblowers. However, it's understood that there is concern in Government that broadening the scope of the probe would lead to a longer, drawn-out tribunal process.

Meanwhile, the identity of the judge who will preside over the tribunal also remains to be finalised.

It may not be Mr Justice Peter Charleton, who had been selected to chair the previously planned but now-abandoned Commission of Investigation as he is a serving Supreme Court justice.

Speaking in the Dáil, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said the tribunal must include an examination of Sgt McCabe's experience during the O'Higgins Commission of Investigation.

Mr Martin claimed that the senior counsel for Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan had 'thrown the kitchen sink' at Sgt McCabe during that inquiry.

Mr Martin alleged that a five-page document was prepared by the Chief State Solicitors Office on behalf of the Garda commissioner with the aim of undermining the whistleblower's credibility.

"There's no doubt in my mind there was an attempt or a campaign to undermine the integrity of Maurice McCabe because he was a major thorn in the side of some in An Garda Síochána," Mr Martin said.

Mr Kenny said that the inquiry agreed by ministers will be based on 1921 legislation and it must be "right down the middle in respect of everybody".

"The presumption of innocence stands for every citizen," he said. Mr Kenny said the central issue that needed to be addressed by the tribunal was whether there was an "organised smear on Sgt McCabe" by senior Garda officers.

Children's Minister Katherine Zappone later said the terms of reference for the tribunal would be drawn up to ensure a "focused and timely" investigation.

Irish Independent

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