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Minister refuses to answer questions set out by whistleblower Maurice McCabe

Tanaiste and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald has refused to answer questions set out by whistleblower Sergeant Maurice McCabe.

The demand for explanations was turned down as the Government moved to open a potentially long-running tribunal to investigate an alleged smear campaign against the officer.

Mr McCabe sought answers on whether a superintendent held a meeting or had a phone call with health chiefs over the unfounded and false report of alleged sex abuse.

He also wanted the identity of an officer who took a call from the Health Service Executive about the untrue report of a rape allegation and who interviewed the alleged victim.

Mr McCabe also asked for information about garda activity around the issue and whether a decision had been taken to keep the false claim from him.

Ms Fitzgerald said it would be "fraught" to set up a tribunal and immediately demand answers from people involved.

"Of course, I understand well the concerns which people have expressed about the treatment of Maurice McCabe. But it would be a great pity for people here to try to rectify one injustice by causing others," she said.

"Whatever anger people might feel, in this country we do not set up tribunals of inquiry simply to confirm what people already believe. We set them up to look at all the evidence, hear all sides, and establish what the truth is.

"We have to be careful not to rush to judgment. And above all everyone is entitled to basic, fair procedures enshrined in our Constitution. I am not prepared to ignore that and engage in a rush to judgment, which ignores anyone's fundamental human rights.

"We have to investigate matters fully, but it must be fairly too. I cannot uphold the integrity of the office to which I have been honoured to be appointed by setting at nought the rights of others."

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