Wednesday 21 February 2018

Report on treatment of whistleblower McCabe can't be published

Whistleblower Garda Sgt. Maurice McCabe. Photo: Tom Burke
Whistleblower Garda Sgt. Maurice McCabe. Photo: Tom Burke
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

A report that outlines "significant developments" about the treatment of whistleblower Sergeant Maurice McCabe cannot be published due to legal and confidentiality issues, the Justice Department has said.

The report was written by Garda head of human resources John Barrett and was provided to Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald on August 24.

It was written under Section 41 of the Garda Síochána Act, which means it must be sent to the minister and is of such importance that it can be seen as "a significant development" relating to Garda accountability and public confidence in the force.

It is understood to detail a meeting Mr Barrett had with Mr McCabe around the time of the publication of the finding of the O'Higgins Inquiry, which examined some of the whistleblower's allegations of Garda malpractice.

According to RTÉ's This Week programme, Mr Barrett raises the issue of the alleged 2014 meeting in a car park between then Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairman John McGuinness and then Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan.

Mr McGuinness claimed in the Dáil that Mr Callinan tried to discredit the whistleblower ahead of Mr McCabe's PAC appearance.

Another issue raised is the so-called 'Mullingar Meeting', where Mr McCabe met two senior gardaí to discuss concerns about alleged Garda malpractice.

There are conflicting accounts of what was said at the meetings, with one version - submitted to the O'Higgins Inquiry - claiming that Mr McCabe was motivated by malice in making complaints. That account is contradicted in a tape recording Mr McCabe made of the meeting.

Issues surrounding the meeting are currently subject to an investigation by GSOC.

The O'Higgins Inquiry, whose report was published in May, found that Mr McCabe "acted out of genuine and legitimate concerns".

A Justice Department spokesman said Mr Barrett's report can't be published or furnished to the Oireachtas at this time.

This is in part due to "legal issues" and "the right of confidentiality which must be afforded to persons named within".

A Garda spokesman said the force "does not comment on any such correspondence". He said Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan has expressed support for employees raising concerns "on numerous occasions" and that the handling of protected disclosures has been strengthened following the O'Higgins report.

Irish Independent

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