Monday 23 September 2019

Maurice McCabe set standard that garda must follow

Maurice McCabe (Niall Carson/PA)
Maurice McCabe (Niall Carson/PA)


If the reputation of An Garda Síochána has been diminished by its treatment of Sergeant Maurice McCabe, his own stature has grown.

Many who have been reluctantly catapulted into controversy find themselves commanding attention; but Garda McCabe commands national respect.

His retirement after three decades was probably inevitable. The perverse web in which he found himself was spun by those who were charged with protecting him. The suffering he and his family were forced to endure as a result of unprecedented intrigue, conspiracy and deceit at the highest levels of the force shocked the country.

At midnight last night, Sgt McCabe became an ordinary civilian but there was nothing ordinary about the chain of events that led to his decision.

Suffice to say the careers of two commissioners and two justice ministers were shortened abruptly because of matters related to his story. For doing his job conscientiously he found himself isolated and conspired against.

His crusade to expose wrong-doing within the ranks placed him in a hopelessly unequal battle. Undaunted he pressed on. For the first time in its history, a serving member of the force appeared independently of Garda HQ to expose malfeasance.

It proved a perilous place to be. Far from being rewarded for his forthright honesty, and courage, he became the subject of a "campaign of calumny".

This, according to the Disclosures Tribunal, was led from the very top by former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan and Superintendent David Taylor.

He became a target for the vilest denigration, shunned and sidelined, yet he did not flinch.

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris has since met the whistle-blower and apologised to him on behalf of the Garda. He had done a great service to An Garda Síochána and policing in Ireland, Mr Harris acknowledged.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan has also apologised on behalf of the Government.

Yet his journey from pariah to hero has only been completed at huge personal cost.

But if the Garda is to recover the trust and respect it has lost in recent years, a good place to start would be to embrace the values and character exemplified by the quiet garda from Bailieborough, Co Cavan.

The pressure from this scandal reshaped the higher echelons in both justice and the Garda.

The tribunal has found Sgt McCabe acted in the public interest and had done the State some service.

He did more than that - at a very low time for the force, he raised the bar.

For it's axiomatic that people will only have respect for law and order when they see those who are entrusted to enforce those laws lead by example.

Irish Independent

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