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Thursday 23 November 2017

Whistleblower controversy: Zappone did inform Taoiseach about nature of allegations made against Maurice McCabe

Taoiseach Enda Kenny Picture: Clodagh Kilcoyne
Taoiseach Enda Kenny Picture: Clodagh Kilcoyne

John Downing and Laura Larkin

A new contradiction between Taoiseach Enda Kenny's account of recent events and that of his Children's Minister Katherine Zappone has emerged again this evening.

Just hours after the Taoiseach told the Dáil that he was wrong to say Children's Minister Katherine Zappone told him she was meeting Sgt McCabe last week, when in fact that exchange had happened on an official level, the new contradiction emerged.

Speaking this evening Ms Zappone said she told the Fine Gael leader of the meeting between herself and Sgt Maurice McCabe and told him of the nature of the allegations of sexual abuse that had been falsely made against him.

This is the first time that Ms Zappone has said that Mr Kenny was informed of the detail of the allegations.

In previous statements she said she informed the Taoiseach about a Tusla link.

Speaking in the chamber on Tuesday evening Mr Kenny said:

"Ms Zappone informed me just before the Cabinet meeting that she had met with the McCabe family and that that discussion centred around false allegations of a sexual nature to Tusla about Sgt McCabe.

"That's the briefing that the Minister gave me and these matters were covered in the terms of reference set out by justice O'Neill in that Tusla was covered in that and the judge appointed at that time for the Commission of Investigation was happy that that also included all of the issues that he saw on the RTÉ PrimeTime programME on the Thursday evening," he added.

Earlier, speaking during a heated Dáil debate this afternoon, the Taoiseach said he was "guilty of not giving accurate information" in relation to who told him about Zappone's meeting with McCabe.

“I might say mea culpa- I am guilty here of not giving accurate information,” he said.

His Dáil comments came two days after he made a comment on RTE Radio One This Week programme on Sunday that Ms Zappone had only told him she planned to meet with Sgt McCabe and Mr Kenny said he advised her to record the full account.

In earlier exchanges in today's Dail Mr Kenny said that Ms Zappone did not speak to him prior to the meeting and spoke to him afterwards where she referred to the Tusla link.

On Sunday's radio programme Mr Kenny had said: “Minister Zappone is doing a very good job, did tell me that  she intended to meet with Sergeant McCabe in a private capacity and that's all I knew.

“I said to her well if you do have a meeting make sure that you have a thorough account of it and so when we had our meeting on Tuesday I wouldn't have been aware of any of the details of her discussions with..."

However, Mr Kenny now says that conversation never happened and he “regrets” saying it. He added that conversations did take place between his officials and Ms Zappone’s office.

He further said Ms Zappone did not “indicate details” of it with him.

More to follow...

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