Republic of Ireland news

Garda whistleblower 'was blanked and isolated' by force

Sergeant Maurice McCabe resigned from his position as head of the traffic unit in Mullingar, Co Westmeath, shortly after learning that Garda lawyers intended to attack his integrity at a private inquiry into his claims of corruption and wrongdoing within the force. Picture by Niall Carson, Press Association
Michael McHugh, Press Association

A police whistleblower whose malpractice claims almost brought down the Dublin government said he was blanked and isolated by members of the force.

Sgt Maurice McCabe complained of alleged harassment, bullying, discrimination and victimisation at the hands of a superintendent. He also faced unfounded and false allegations of a sexual assault.

The saga surrounding the handling of his disclosure of alleged wrongdoing among police in the Irish border counties of Cavan-Monaghan contributed to the end of the careers of former taoiseach Enda Kenny, two former chiefs of the Garda force and ex-justice minister and later deputy prime pinister Frances Fitzgerald.

Sgt McCabe told the Disclosures Tribunal: "There are an element that would just blank you, not speak to you.

"The culture is there, it is extremely hard to speak out."

He said 10 officers he worked with in Mullingar traffic corps had supported him 100%.

But he added: "You certainly are isolated and alone."

Before Christmas, Mrs Fitzgerald resigned to avoid a snap election over her handling of the whistleblower scandal.

She became embroiled after questions began to be asked about who knew what and when about an aggressive strategy being employed by lawyers for former Garda commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan against the whistleblower during a private inquiry.

She initially said she had forgotten an email which notified her of the approach.

Subsequently, it emerged she had received at least three emails on the issue in 2015. She was told not to intervene.

The Disclosures Tribunal at Dublin Castle, led by Mr Justice Peter Charleton, is probing how the Garda handled Sgt McCabe's whistleblowing.

Sgt McCabe had accused the force of malpractice including the quashing of penalty points.

He later made a complaint against former Commissioner Martin Callinan, the head of the Irish police force, which was brought to attention of former justice minister Alan Shatter.

Sgt McCabe said a "serious error of judgment" was made by placing Superintendent Michael Clancy on a promotion list.

During the fallout from the matter, Messers Callinan and Shatter later resigned.

A previous closed inquiry, the O'Higgins Report, has said Mr Shatter, Mr Callinan and the Department of Justice handled complaints made by Mr McCabe in a professional and appropriate manner "at all times".

Part of the Disclosures Tribunal's terms of reference is considering whether the false and unfounded child sex abuse allegation made against Sgt McCabe in 2006 was used against him.

It is also investigating whether Mrs O'Sullivan's lawyers advised that Sgt McCabe's motivation should be challenged at the private O'Higgins inquiry despite public support for whistleblowers.

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