Cabinet agrees to public inquiry into alleged McCabe smear campaign

The Taoiseach admitted he gave an inaccurate account of his knowledge on the false allegations against Maurice McCabe

Cabinet agrees to public inquiry into alleged McCabe smear campaign

Maurice McCabe arrives at Leinster House in 2014 | Image: RollingNews.ie

The Cabinet has agreed there will be a full public tribunal of inquiry into allegations of a smear campaign against the garda whistleblower, Sergeant Maurice McCabe.

The terms of reference for the tribunal will be drafted after consultation with opposition parties and the Taoiseach Enda Kenny would like them passed by the Dáil and Seanad in the next 48 hours.

Mr Kenny told the Dáil that there was nothing more serious than to be called a sex abuser.

And he confirmed a Tribunal would now take place to get to the truth.

"The Government this morning agreed in principal to set up a Tribunal of Inquiry under the 1921 Act.

"The terms of reference to be worked out, the details and the structure by which the central issue here can be addressed - and that is the determination of the truth and justice for everybody in respect of that central issue: was there an organised smear on Sergeant McCabe".

There were lively scenes in the Dáil throughout the day as deputies repeatedly questioned the Taoiseach and ministers over last week's events and their knowledge of the false allegations against Sgt McCabe. 

In a clarifying statement this evening, the Taoiseach explained:"I mistakenly said that I had spoken to Minister Zappone before her meeting with Sgt McCabe. That comment was inaccurate."

 

He later admitted for the first time that he was aware of false allegations of sex abuse against Maurice McCabe.

The Taoiseach conceded that Katherine Zappone did tell him of the sexual nature of the false allegations against the whistleblower.

Both ministers insisted that further details were not discussed - though the Taoiseach declared that the matter fell within the scope of their inquiry into an alleged smear campaign.

The matter was discussed in some detail before last Tuesday's cabinet meeting.

"Minister Zappone said that she had met with the McCabes, and that the question of false allegations of sexual abuse had been [...] made to Tusla and discussed with her or by her with the McCabes," he explained.

"There are clearly implications for the rights of people involved" 

Addressing the Dáil this evening, the Tánaiste and Justice Minister insisted she did not mislead the Dáil last Thursday.

Frances Fitzgerald also referred to Sergeant Maurice McCabe's statement yesterday in which he asked for answers to six questions.

Minister Fitzgerald says she does not have the information and is not certain she has the legal right to ask for it, suggesting "there are clearly implications for the rights of people involved":

She also addressed the details of a meeting between herself and Fianna Fáil's Jim O'Callaghan. Deputy O'Callaghan has insisted Minister Fitzgerald was informed by him in advance that an RTÉ documentary would involve allegations concerning Tusla.

"I accept that each of our positions on this aspect of the discussion are genuinely held," she said.

"I regret that differences have arisen between the two of us as to what exactly was said. I have always found the Deputy honourable and I do know he made very helpful suggestions about changes that might be made to the terms of reference - which, indeed, I accepted in substance."

Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin is demanding ministers come before the Dáil and explain themselves.

"I also want to put it to you that the establishment of a Tribunal of Inquiry, and it hasn't been established yet, is no basis for ministers not coming into the House to answer questions to the House and to be accountable to the House in relation to the Tusla file - which is over and above and additional to the protected issues that gave rise to the inquiry in the first instance", Mr Martin added.