Tuesday 17 September 2019

'Single-handed, you've changed policing' - what Harris told McCabe

Now retired sergeant Maurice McCabe and his wife Lorraine. Picture: Barry Cronin
Now retired sergeant Maurice McCabe and his wife Lorraine. Picture: Barry Cronin
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris told Maurice McCabe that he had single-handedly changed policing, when he visited the whistleblower's home to apologise in the wake of the Disclosures Tribunal.

Two weeks after being appointed as head of the An Garda Síochána, Mr Harris spent an hour and a half in the Mountnugent home of the retired sergeant, in Co Cavan.

While the commissioner has remained tight-lipped about what exactly he had said to Mr McCabe, further details of the meeting were revealed last night.

Mr McCabe said he was confident the new commissioner will be able to bring about change in the force.

"He's seriously interested in getting the guards back on track. And I believe he will," Mr McCabe said, in the second part of the RTÉ documentary 'Whistleblower: The Maurice McCabe Story'.

"He told Maurice that he had changed policing. He said 'single handed, you've done it, whether you realise it or you don't,'" his wife Lorraine said.

"And that was nice coming from him," Mr McCabe added.

Mr McCabe said he was annoyed with himself for shaking hands with former Garda commissioner Martin Callinan at the Disclosures Tribunal.

He was approached by Mr Callinan during a break in tribunal proceedings earlier this year.

Last month, the tribunal found Mr McCabe was subjected to a smear campaign by Mr Callinan and former Garda press officer, Superintendent Dave Taylor.

Speaking in the second part of the RTÉ documentary the father of five said the handshake was "disgusting, to use a word of his".

The comment was a reference to infamous remarks made by Mr Callinan at the Dáil Public Accounts Committee (PAC) in 2014 when the then commissioner described the actions of Mr McCabe and another Garda whistleblower as "disgusting".

Of the handshake, Mr McCabe said: "I was annoyed with myself because he was one person that I wouldn't shake hands with ever again."

Lorraine said her husband explained Mr Callinan stuck his hand out and Mr McCabe hadn't realised whose hand he was shaking.

The documentary marks the first time Mr McCabe and his wife Lorraine have spoken to the media about their ordeal. The first part, aired on Monday, attracted an average audience of 509,000 viewers.

It emerged during the tribunal that Mr Callinan made a series of false claims about Sgt McCabe to TDs and others at a time the whistleblower was raising concerns about penalty points abuses and other poor policing practices.

Last month, tribunal chairman Mr Justice Peter Charleton found Mr Callinan engaged in a campaign of false and defamatory statements against Mr McCabe, with the assistance of Supt Taylor.

In the second part of the documentary, it was revealed Mr McCabe's father Michael had embarked on a crusade against the pollution of Lough Sheelin in the 1980s.

Mr McCabe said that although he wasn't thinking about it when he took a stand against Garda malpractice, there were similarities.

"He [Michael McCabe] would go all out to prove his case. And I suppose that happened to me [too]," said Mr McCabe.

"I wasn't conscious of it at the time, but looking back, it was identical."

Irish Independent

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