herald

Tuesday 26 September 2017

Whistleblower may get seven-figure payout as he prepares to sue state

Garda whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe has confirmed he plans to seek compensation from the State
Garda whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe has confirmed he plans to seek compensation from the State

A huge payout for damages is expected to be sought by the legal team of Garda Sergeant Maurice McCabe as the whistleblower prepares to seek compensation from the State.

Seeking a payment of several hundred thousand euro or even a seven-figure sum cannot be ruled out, as steps are taken to begin suing the State.

He confirmed yesterday that he intends to take a case against the State for the damage done to him.

He has resolutely maintained he has been the victim of a smear campaign orchestrated by senior members of An Garda Siochana.

A formal apology to Sgt McCabe by Tusla, the child protection agency, was issued yesterday following the revelation that a false allegation of child sexual abuse was made against him.

His solicitor, Sean Costello, told RTE News yesterday the false sex abuse allegation was profoundly serious.

"The nature of this allegation is probably the worst thing you could say or allege about any individual," said Mr Costello.

Collusion

Earlier, Tusla chief executive Fred McBride had denied that the agency was involved in any sort of collusion with gardai in relation to mistaken and false allegations linked to Sgt McCabe.

Speaking on RTE News at One, Mr McBride said that he "absolutely refuted any suggestion there was collusion between Tusla and the gardai".

A Prime Time investigation revealed on Thursday that a mistaken allegation of digital rape of a child was linked to garda whistleblower Sgt McCabe due to a "clerical error".

Mr McBride said "there is no doubt that mistakes have been made" and a full review of what occurred will take place.

He added that he had issued a letter of apology to the McCabes and has offered to meet the family to apologise in person if necessary.

He said the reason for the delay is that he wanted the apology to come from him personally and he wanted to know the detail of what had occurred.

Tusla has a responsibility to ensure that all information was investigated, Mr McBride said.

"If that information turns out to be inaccurate, and that was the case here... it is incumbent on us to correct that information as quickly as possible and that's where mistakes were made," he added.

Mr McBride said he escalated the matter to the Department of Children and Youth Affairs "within days".

Meanwhile, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) expressed its concerns at the ongoing controversy surrounding the treatment of Sgt McCabe.

It noted that issues arising may be so profound as to require a broader response, engaging institutions beyond the proposed commission of investigation.

The ICCL said the potential involvement of individuals in a range of State agencies in the alleged smear campaign runs to the very heart of Ireland's justice and political systems, even raising issues of public confidence in the State's child protection systems.

Misconduct

The ICCL has consistently called for a commission of investigation to address the treatment of garda whistleblowers.

"Information which has been placed into the public domain in the last 48 hours, including very serious allegations of misconduct in the treatment of Sgt Maurice McCabe, raise very serious questions for accountability and oversight across a range of state agencies, which must be addressed if the public is to retain full confidence in the administration of justice and policing," said ICCL executive director Liam Herrick.

"The Tanaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality [Frances Fitzgerald] must ensure that the proposed commission of inquiry is constituted to 'stop the rot' and that measures to ensure meaningful reform of policing and justice are implemented without delay."

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