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Miriam Donohue: Scandal has left McCabe family living a nightmare


Tusla CEO Fred McBride. Photo: Douglas O'Connor

Tusla CEO Fred McBride. Photo: Douglas O'Connor

Tusla CEO Fred McBride. Photo: Douglas O'Connor

It is impossible to even begin to imagine the nightmare the family of Sergeant Maurice McCabe are living through.

Child sex assault is the most heinous crime, and to have false allegations of this nature end up on a file with the agency charged with protecting children has to be shattering.

With so much emphasis on the political fall-out and 'Gubu' parallel of this explosive case within An Garda Síochána and the media, it is very easy for us all to forget the human cost to an innocent family who are living daily with a dark cloud hanging over them.

Sgt McCabe, his wife Lorraine, and four children - who also feature on the file - have to be drawing on every ounce of their resolve and strength to get through each minute of each day, and try to not let this sordid scandal completely destroy their lives.

It must be impossible for Sgt McCabe and his children to come to terms with the fact that they were on the system in Tusla since 2013 without knowing.

The first he knew about any of this was when he was contacted about the horrendous allegation last year.

The explanation that this was all an honest "cut-and-paste" mistake is just impossible to believe.

We got a small insight into how this is impacting on the family when Sgt McCabe said: "They have destroyed us."

As if the family haven't enough to contend with, there were then some unforgivable blunders over the weekend.

The first was the fact that the written apology from Tusla CEO Fred McBride was delivered to the wrong address on Friday.

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It went to an elderly neighbour instead.

Then the family was subjected to another blow when the HSE issued a statement of apology on Saturday, without running it by the family first.

They learned of the apology on the RTÉ evening news on Saturday evening.

The McCabes sent a text to one of Health Minister Simon Harris's officials stating: "We reject both the statement and apology.

"The HSE statement is wrong, and this is not good enough.

"The file we have contradicts the statement and it is shocking that we have to again listen and deal with false information."

The HSE statement says that once the alleged error was discovered, all proper procedures were taken by the HSE.

However, documents released by Tusla to the McCabes highlight that there are serious questions to be answered.

Yesterday, the McCabes rejected the statement of apology released by the HSE.

"A blanket statement from the HSE without contacting us was unprofessional and more annoyance to us."

The HSE says efforts have been made over the weekend to contact the McCabe family.

Sgt McCabe and his family have been failed by the State in the most fundamental and damaging way.

What has happened will stay with them for the rest of their lives.

But the State now has a duty to do all it can to minimise the impact of this devastating episode, which has had such serious and personal ramifications, as well as political ones.

It is crucial now that a political football - and political point-scoring - is not made out of this issue and all parties come together to ensure this horrendous episode be fully investigated and included in the terms of reference to the Charleton inquiry.

Sgt McCabe, his wife Lorraine and his four children - two of whom are now grown up - have been living this nightmare for several years. They must be desperate to know when this will end and when they can start resuming a normal life again.