Zappone 'informed colleagues' of Maurice McCabe allegations

A statement says the minister met Mr McCabe and his wife in January

Zappone 'informed colleagues' of Maurice McCabe allegations

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone outside Government Buildings in Dublin | Image:

A spokesperson for the Children's Minister, Katherine Zappone, has confirmed she met Maurice McCabe and his wife over false allegations of sexual abuse made against him.

In a statement, the spokesperson says Minister Zappone "heard first hand of the devastation caused to them by the false allegations".

The minister became aware of the circumstances when Mrs McCabe contacted the office of the health minister on January 18th 2017.

As the matter related to the Department of Children, the private secretary of that department was requested to call Mrs McCabe.

This call between the private secretary and Mrs McCabe took place on January 18th. Minister Zappone then met Mr and Mrs McCabe on Wednesday January 25th.

The spokesperson adds that Minister Zappone "informed relevant Government colleagues" during this period.

That appears to contradict the Justice Minister - Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald - who yesterday told the Dáil that other than GSOC, she was not aware of gardaí contacting any State agencies about Mr McCabe.

Pressure is mounting on Ms Fitzgerald to clarify events.

Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald says if the Tánaiste was told, then she mis-led the Dáil when she was questioned on the matter.

"I believe therefore that she had misled the Dáil.

"I think it's absolutely essential now that Frances Fitzgerald makes a full statement setting out exactly what she knows, when she learnt of these matters - and if she refuses or fails to do that I believe it is a matter that would require her resignation", she said.

Maurice McCabe arrives at Leinster House to appear before the Public Account Committee (PAC) in this file photo | Image:

Minister Zappone's office has been in regular contact with the McCabes and Tusla - which has led to the offer of a public apology.

The Secretary-General of the Department of Children also held a meeting with senior Tusla personnel on Friday January 27th.

Tusla provided the department with a chronology and analysis of the case - which the department gave to the McCabes on Saturday January 28th.

Tusla informed the secretary-general that they have instituted a case review to "extrapolate all relevant information in order to provide a more detailed analysis".

"Minister Zappone was always of the view that Tusla would form part of the investigation by the Commission of Inquiry", the spokesperson adds.

The commission is investigating claims of a smear campaign against garda whistleblowers, led by Supreme Court Justice Peter Charlton.

'Shattered his confidence'

Fianna Fáil TD for Carlow-Kilkenny, John McGuinness, told Newstalk Drive Mr McCabe has been "shattered" by this.

"I met Maurice McCabe and I have to say that over the years he has been strong and determined - but that this issue, relative to his family, has completely shattered his confidence in the State.

"I think that there is need for a criminal investigation into what happened here - and I think that the terms of reference of the Commission of now not sufficient".

"An apology is not enough - we need to know the individuals concerned in this."

"In the process of apologising"

Tusla has said it is in the 'process of apologising fully' to Sergeant McCabe, after it emerged the agency had created a file of false sexual abuse allegations around the garda whistleblower "in error".

The untrue allegations were passed to gardaí but Sergeant McCabe was never informed.

In a statement earlier, Tusla said: "Although we cannot comment on the details of this individual case, we can confirm that we are in the process of apologising fully to the individual involved.

"It appears there were some failures and these are the subject of our internal review, the conclusions of which will be made public."

"Tusla regrets that this situation has arisen and deeply apologises for distress caused. It does not reflect the high standards that we hold ourselves to and we want to assure the public that we will take whatever steps are required to ensure that nothing like this happens again."