So here's how the story goes. In January 2006, Sgt. Maurice McCabe of "An Garda Síochána," made a complaint against a Garda colleague which ends up with the officer being disciplined. Then as if by magic, in December 2006 A Garda makes a complaint against Sgt. McCabe, alleging he rubbed up against a six-year-old girl inappropriately while playing hide and seek with his children. Sgt. McCabe asks that the complaint be fully investigated. The DPP then finds the allegation was without foundation.
So what's so interesting about a bit of a spat between two of the boys in blue so long ago? Well, eleven years later it may just bring down the Government, that's what.
Let's start with Ex-Sgt. Maurice McCabe. The bold Maurice is a bit of a whistleblower, which means he calls a spade a spade and dare we say it? He tells the truth. He raised concerns about the internal handling of an assault allegation in 2012 and he lifted the lid on the penalty points controversy, claiming well-known personalities had their points wiped.
The wiped penalty points dragged into May 2013 when a report by Assistant Commissioner John O’Mahony found there may have been a breach of rules. But then Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan said that, “No evidence has been found to suggest any criminality in the cancellation of fixed charge notices”. I remember that his claim at the time was that individual Gardai had discretionary decision making, apparently even after the fact. The Justice Minister at the time was Alan Shatter who was, (or wasn't) caught drunk driving near the Dail. A lot of discretion was used in that case also with charges quickly dropped. Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan was, (or wasn't), fired by Enda Kenny later and Alan Shatter resigned out of the blue, (if you'll excuse the pun). All very discreet, wasn't it?
But McCabe was beginning to piss off some serious people and it was no surprise when in October 2013, "A Garda and Tusla are contacted by a counsellor, making them aware of a child abuse allegation against another Garda. The Garda in question is Sgt. McCabe. The alleged victim is the same woman who made the claim in 2006. A file is sent to Bailieboro Station on the basis that this is his local station. However, he had not worked there since 2008." Fast forward to January 2014 and the then Commissioner Martin Callinan ignited a political and public storm after calling the actions of Garda whistleblowers 'disgusting.' Callinan attempted to undermine the credibility of Sgt. McCabe, saying he “was not to be trusted and there were serious issues about him”. Then on March 25th, Commissioner Martin Callinan was fire…., ah, retired for family reasons. Assistant Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan was appointed acting Commissioner instead.
Of course there was egg on several high profile faces after that and you kind of knew back then that McCabe was going to get it with both barrels, as it were. In April, The Child and Family Agency (later to become Tusla) opened files on Sgt. McCabe and his family alleging sexual abuse. Tusla is no corner shop though It has 4,000 staff and an operational budget of approximately €600m, so it is a substantial player. To have that lot on your tail is to go through hell, particularly in light of the allegation involved. Oh! And Tusla reports to an American lesbian called Ms Zappone who was appointed Minister for Children, or some such.
The time line after that is as follows:
Counsellor contacts Tusla to say allegation of digital penetration in McCabe file have been ‘copied and pasted’ in error. Gardai are notified of the error by Tusla.
A meeting is scheduled between the local superintendent and an Assistant Garda commissioner. However, the meeting did not take place, according to Gardaí.
O’Higgins Commission of Investigation, which looks at allegations by Sgt. McCabe of malpractice in the Cavan-Monaghan division, is set up.
Tusla writes to Sgt. McCabe informing him he is being investigated following allegations of child sex abuse. It is the first time he is made aware of the allegations. Sgt. McCabe denies the claim.
The O’Higgins commission vindicates Sgt. McCabe’s version of events and upholds the majority of his allegations.
Irish Examiner publishes details of commission documents which show the legal team of Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan attacked the motivation of Sgt McCabe, suggesting he was motivated by malice.
Sgt McCabe is contacted by Tusla which informs him that the sex abuse allegation was an error.
Retired High Court Judge Iarfhlaith O’Neill appointed to do paper review of the reports on the Garda treatment of Sgt. McCabe.
Sgt McCabe gets copy of freedom of information file on the handling of the allegation against him which outlines in detail the extent of the errors.
Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone’s office makes contact with the McCabes.
Peter Charleton Commission of Inquiry into allegation of a smear campaign against Sgt. McCabe is announced by Government.
Ms Zappone meets with the McCabes and is shocked by the details outlined.
Last week then McCabe announced his intention to sue the State and my guess is that this is what will really worry the higher-ups. A Commission of Inquiry is a toothless beast used by politicians as a tool to placate the electorate but never finds guilt or culpability. However, a High Court action asks all the right, (wrong), questions, perjury is a serious business and the guilty are in danger of actually being punished. The judiciary is independent and not beholding to the bluffers in Leinster House.
As of this morning, the rats are deserting the sinking ship. It's all about who knew what and when they knew it. Ms Zappone, Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan, Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald and even Enda himself are denying knowing anything anytime. The Garda Commissioner refuses to stand aside while it is being investigated, Zappone rushed back from a holiday in her native America to ahem, 'Clarify things.' Nobody told Frances Fitzgerald anything at all and the Justice Minister is shocked and amazed apparently. Dr. Varadkar is telling Fine Gael to pretend everything is normal and Michael Martin has given Enda a stay of execution by instructing Fianna Failers to abstain from a vote of confidence in the Government later today.
The debacle is all over the media today. The radio behind me hasn't stopped exploring it since early morning and as for the papers, have a look at the litany below.
Government in crisis: Timeline of an extraordinary day of drama
Chaos as FF and Fitzgerald at odds on Tusla McCabe link
'I'm not stepping aside because I am innocent' Garda Commissioner statement comes hours after FF leader said she 'should assess where she stands' Says she was 'not aware' of any smear campaign.
As pressure mounts on the government, here are the latest details you need to know about the whistleblower crisis
Counsellor at centre of McCabe storm still with HSE.
Coalition faces a slow-motion implosion over McCabe scandal.
A latter-day 'Gubu' which cries out for some long-overdue honest answers to disturbing questions.
Superintendent David Taylor reinstated after being cleared of leaking information.
That last one is interesting. "The former head of the Garda Press Office has been reinstated to An Garda Síochána after being cleared of leaking sensitive information to the media by the DPP. But the article also informs us that, "Taylor also made a protected disclosure last year alleging he took part in black propaganda after being ordered to discredit McCabe. In it he alleged that he was instructed or directed by Callinan and/or Nóirín O’Sullivan (who was Deputy Commissioner at the time) to maliciously brief the media about Sergeant Maurice McCabe and encourage them to write negative stories about him." I predict that you have not heard the end of this little nasty tale.
The litany of events above were all caused by one simple Garda Sergeant breaking ranks eleven years ago and telling the truth. When the Gardai went on a go-slow some years back it was christened the 'Blue Flu," because they claimed it wasn't a go-slow. The closing of Garda ranks against McCabe has now been christened the, "Blue Glue." Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan was a political appointment and one suspects Enda and the lads saw her as a safe pair of hands. Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald has no qualification for the job except being a woman at a time Enda needed token women. Ms Zappone is just some bizarre anomaly that an election throws up.
The wise money is on Zappone being tossed to the wolves first. If that doesn't lower the temperature then Nóirín O’Sullivan will probably be, ahem, asked to stand aside. If that doesn't work then expect Frances Fitzgerald to resign for …….. well, family reasons. There's swans all over the Dail this morning, as in, all serene on top and paddling like fuck underneath. Politicians jobs are on the line and at a time like that, nothing else matters to them. Trump, BREXIT, the EU, Putin and all the rest of those minor issues have paled to insignificance in the light of a pending election.
It's like going to the circus watching strange animals doing tricks as clowns dance around, all thanks to an honest cop, the truthful Maurice McCabe.
I'll have a pint in his honour next Friday.