Tuesday 12 December 2017

Zappone tells Dáil, maybe I was overly cautious but I wanted to protect the McCabe family

Katherine Zappone
Katherine Zappone
John Downing

John Downing

Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone has conceded that she may have “overly cautious” in handling the involvement of child and family agency, Tusla’s involvement in the McCabe affair.

Addressing the Dáil for the first time following a week of controversy which has surrounded the Government, Ms Zappone also said she may be open to the charge of being “politically naïve.”

But the Minister said this was preferable to being seen as spreading false allegations against Sgt McCabe and his family.

The Children’s Minister admitted that there was confusion around her two statements on the issue last Friday. This was in part due to her being on the west coast of the USA on a family visit and in a different time zone.

Ms Zappone said she was satisfied that Tusla were always covered by the terms of reference for the planned inquiry. But she conceded that she should probably have spoken up at last Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting and would try to learn from that mistake.

“I accept that now that some colleagues would have preferred if I had made a contribution at Cabinet. I will learn from that,” Ms Zappone told TDs.

Speaking in the Dáil on Tuesday evening, Children’s Minister said she had spoken to the Taoiseach last Tuesday about her meeting late last month with the McCabe family. She  said she also told Mr Kenny about false sexual abuse allegations and that Tusla were involved.

Meanwhile, Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald again disputed claims by Fianna Fáil's Jim O'Callaghan that he informed her about the Tusla file.

Ms Fitzgerald said that Deputy O'Callaghan had told her there would be a Prime Time programme about false allegations against Sgt McCabe, and asked her to widen the inquiry terms of reference to cover smear allegations.

"I agreed to extend them," the Justice Minister said. But she again told the Dáil that she was not informed about the Tusla file.

"I would have absolutely included it, it would have been to my advantage to include it," Ms Fitzgerald said.

Deputy O'Callaghan agreed most of the discussion was about one paragraph in the inguiry terms of reference. But he began the conversation with her by telling her about the upcoming Prime Time programme which was about the role of Tusla.

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