Belfast Telegraph

Second whistleblower wants case included in probe into alleged smear campaign

A second garda whistleblower has demanded that his case is included in a public inquiry into an alleged smear campaign against Sergeant Maurice McCabe.

Keith Harrison claims he and his girlfriend endured covert and overt surveillance, referrals to Tusla - the Child and Family Agency, and that they were the victim of rumour, innuendo and malicious falsehoods.

Garda Harrison issued a lengthy statement through his solicitor after Taoiseach Enda Kenny confirmed a tribunal was being set up into the scandal of unfounded and false sex abuse claims being peddled against Sgt McCabe.

Mr Harrison claimed there is an "orchestrated system and culture" among senior management of the force that dictates the treatment of whistleblowers.

Mr Harrison said: "The efforts of this Government to restrict the inquiry/commission of investigation to the very traumatic story of Sergeant McCabe absolutely ensures we will not get to the bottom of the culture of management failures and ill-treatment of whistleblowers within An Garda Siochana."

The Government was effectively forced into ordering the tribunal with hearings to be public .

The decision was taken after Mr McCabe and his wife Lorraine said they would not accept any investigation into the controversy being held behind closed doors.

"There's nothing worse in this country than to be called a sex abuser, nothing worse," the Taoiseach told the Dail.

The terms of reference of the tribunal are expected to be finalised in the next 48 hours with the Government now under deepening pressure to extend it to include other whistleblowers.

Garda Harrison, who was previously nominated for a Scott Medal for bravery but has been on extended sick leave, was stationed in Athlone when he stopped a colleague on suspicion of drink-driving in 2009.

He also raised concerns about drug-dealing investigations.

In the statement issued on behalf of Mr Harrison and his partner Marisa Simms, their solicitor claimed that since then both he and his family suffered victimisation, bullying, and intimidation.

He has also faced disciplinary action and threatened criminal prosecution.

The officer was prosecuted for having no insurance on his car and he was reported to Tusla.

Garda Harrison has spoken out before and some of his claims have been put on the record in the Dail.

"It is our belief that senior management within An Garda Siochana set out to attack and destroy our family because I sought to speak out about malpractice within the force," Mr Harrison said.

"In doing so they tried to discredit me, and also reported 'concerns' regarding the well-being of my partner's children, leading to a Tusla investigation, which revealed no risk whatsoever."

Garda Harrison said his treatment bears similarities to the experience of Sgt McCabe and his family.

"It is clear to us the incidents contained in the disclosures of Superintendent (David) Taylor and Sergeant McCabe are not isolated but rather, along with our experience, identifies a common approach within the senior management of An Garda Siochana to whistleblowers," Mr Harrison said.

Amid the second whistleblower going public, the Government is under pressure for ministers, including the Taoiseach, Tanaiste and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald and Children's Minister Katherine Zappone, to formally explain what they knew and when they knew about the McCabe affair.

The sergeant was at the centre of an unfounded and false report on a Tusla file of an allegation of sex abuse against a colleague's daughter.

A counsellor working on behalf of the agency has claimed the error was made when details from a different case were cut and pasted on to a file.

Sgt McCabe has rejected an apology issued by the Health Service Executive at the weekend.

And in a four-page statement issued on Monday, Sgt McCabe accused Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan of privately discrediting him while publicly declaring her support over his horrific ordeal.

The officer claimed the police chief's lawyers set out to discredit him at the O'Higgins Commission which investigated and vindicated a series of allegations by Mr McCabe of negligence in policing in the Cavan-Monaghan district.

Ms O'Sullivan again insisted she played no role in the peddling of false rumours of child sex abuse against Mr McCabe in order to blacken his name for exposing wrongdoing in the force.

The McCabes set out a number of questions they want answers to.

They include a demand that the Taoiseach, Justice Minister and Children's Minister and other members of government disclose if they were ever "briefed formally or informally" about the false abuse allegations.

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