Tuesday 20 August 2019

Fitzgerald facing tough questions over McCabe

Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald
Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald


There are many unanswered questions regarding the scandalous treatment of Sergeant Maurice McCabe. The one thing that is not in doubt is that he was the victim of a grave wrong.

Therefore, for the Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald to go on RTÉ yesterday and admit that she could not remember being sent an email pertaining to his case, when she was justice minister in 2015, suggests she was either incompetent or worse.

The McCabe case is arguably the most incendiary that has ever been opened in either the Department of Justice or within the Garda. It is not too much of a stretch to suggest that its handling will have profound implications for the future of both. The reputations of both the Department of Justice and the Garda depend on getting to the truth.

Mrs Fitzgerald, in her attempt to set the record straight yesterday, fell flat on her face.

Not only did she undermine herself, she also put herself at odds with Mr McCabe. She insisted that she received an email about a criminal charge against Mr McCabe that had been raised at the tribunal.

But, according to Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, Mr McCabe took "serious issue" with her, denying the claim was ever made.

It is often argued that in the contest between conspiracy and cock-up, 99pc of the time the explanation can be attributed to the latter.

Given what we know about what Mr McCabe has had to endure, such an assumption cannot be made.

Mrs Fitzgerald gave wrong information to the Taoiseach, who, in turn, misled the Dáil about the most serious case of mistreatment of a garda in the history of the State.

Unless she can adequately explain why she was so careless, when a serving member of the Garda's character was under attack from within the force, then she has little choice but to join the long procession of those whom have already had to step aside for their failures in this scandal.

Social media has duty to stop streams of hate

It is time to end the stubborn complacency that surrounds racism and stare its ugly face in the eye.

The shocking abuse of Ireland soccer international Cyrus Christie on social media is rightly being investigated by gardaí, but why are online platforms that make billions in profits not policing them properly to dam up the streams of hate?

Every article in a newspaper is read by lawyers and experienced journalists, necessary standards and curbs are kept in place at considerable cost. Why are the same standards not enforced online?

The idea that the footballer could be left in tears by tweets from an account with a made-up name which told him to go to Jamaica and threatened to lynch him violates all decency. So why should Twitter not be called to account?

This week, 16-year-old Joella Dhlamini from Co Louth, who is originally from South Africa, courageously told the Taoiseach how she had frequently been called a "monkey" and a "gorilla" and had also been subject to the N-word on her way home from school. Her bravery makes her a towering giant compared with the cowards who made the twisted taunts.

Even so, there must be zero tolerance of racism and anyone who makes it possible for others to hide behind keyboards to taunt and traumatise with impunity.

In the words of Audre Lorde: "It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognise, accept, and celebrate those differences."

Irish Independent

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