Garda whistleblower McCabe rejects HSE apology

The McCabes have said a HSE statement contained "false information" and have rejected the executive's apology

Garda whistleblower Sergeant Maurice McCabe has rejected an apology from the HSE regarding false allegations of sexual abuse made against him.

It emerged earlier this week that that the child and family agency Tusla mistakenly created a file containing the false allegations as a result of a “clerical error.”

On Saturday, the HSE released a statement confirming that the error was made by a staff member of the HSE’s National Counselling Service in 2013.

The HSE statement apologised “unreservedly to Mr. McCabe and his family for the distress caused on foot of this error” and said the executive would make arrangements to formally offer the apology to Mr McCabe, “as soon as possible.”

It also claimed the HSE is, “satisfied that correct procedure was followed once this error was brought to the attention of the National Counselling Service.”

False information

It is understood the McCabes contacted a Department of Health official yesterday evening to say the statement was “wrong.”

The McCabe's statement, read out by Áine Lawlor on RTÉ this afternoon, said the family rejects, “both the statement and apology.”

“The HSE statement is wrong and this is not good enough,” they said. "The file we have contradicts the statement and it is shocking that we have to again listen and deal with false information."

The McCabes have reportedly taken particular issue with the HSE assertion that proper procedures were followed once the error became known.

The family told the Irish Times that they are in possession of documents, acquired under the freedom of information (FOI) act, that directly contradict the HSE statement and highlight “serious questions to be answered.”

Mr McCabe said it was “unprofessional” of the HSE to release a public statement without contacting the family directly.

Tusla file

Both the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste have today said that they did not know of the existence of the Tusla file on Mr McCabe - and were not briefed on the details of a meeting between the Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone and the McCabes to discuss the false allegations.

On Friday, a spokesperson for Minister Zappone confirmed she became aware of the Sergeant McCabe’s full circumstances on January 18th before meeting with the couple on January 25th.

The spokesperson said she “informed relevant Government colleagues” of the situation during this period.

Speaking to RTÉ this morning, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said Minister Zappone had not informed him of the context of the meeting because she was meeting the family in a “private capacity.”

The Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald told RTÉ that she had not asked Minister Zappone to brief her on what was discussed with the McCabes because she was “respecting the integrity” of the meeting.

Minister Fitzgerald said she was not aware of the details regarding the Tusla file and the “clerical error” until it was broadcast in the media.

Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald has said she believes the Tánaiste misled the Dáil and has called on her to make a full statement on the matter. 

Yesterday, Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams confirmed the party will table a motion of no confidence in the government next week over its handling of the McCabe affair and the ongoing hospital waiting list crisis.

Commission of Investigation

Claims that Sergeant McCabe was the victim of a smear campaign orchestrated by senior garda management in response to his decision to draw attention to alleged garda malpractice regarding the penalty points system will be the subject of a new Commission of Investigation led by Supreme Court Justice Peter Charleton.

The terms of reference for the inquiry may now be broadened to include an examination of the role played by the Tusla and the HSE.

The Taoiseach has said he will not rule out the possibility of a full criminal investigation into the affair once the Commission of Investigation has completed its inquiry.

Mr McCabe’s solicitor has said his client intends to take a case against the state for the damage done to himself and his family.