Belfast Telegraph

Whistleblower Garda officer receives Taoiseach apology

By Ed Carty

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has offered a full apology to whistleblower Sergeant Maurice McCabe.

As he faced down an attempt to collapse the government over the handling of allegations of a smear campaign against the respected officer, Mr Kenny said the unfounded child sex abuse slur was appalling.

"I offer a full apology to Maurice McCabe and his family for the treatment that was meted out to them," the Taoiseach said.

A judge-led tribunal is to be held into allegations that the top brass of the Garda orchestrated a black propaganda campaign against Sgt McCabe among journalists and politicians. Hearings are to be held in public, with the inquiry expected to be extended to cover other Garda whistleblowers who have alleged victimisation.

Also, an independent, international policing expert is to be brought into the Republic to carry out a "root and branch" audit of the Garda. The Independent Alliance said it had secured agreement for the oversight reform, despite the existence of the Garda Inspectorate.

Mr Kenny said: "The government's sole objective in responding to the recent protected disclosures has been and remains to get to the full truth.

"The false allegations against Sgt McCabe are simply appalling. Sex abuse is the worst crime a person can be accused of."

Judge Peter Charleton, of the Supreme Court, is expected to lead the tribunal into the McCabe affair.

Superintendent Dave Taylor made the allegation of a smear campaign in a protected disclosure last year. He returned to work on Tuesday after being suspended for almost two years while a separate investigation ran into the alleged leaking of information to the media about the identities of Roma children taken into care over a suspected but unfounded kidnap concern.

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin said the government's approach to setting up an inquiry had been appalling.

"The Taoiseach and his ministers failed to react with appropriate concern when deeply disturbing information was brought to their attention concerning the possible use of a state agency to terrorise an honourable servant of the State," Mr Martin said.

Mr Kenny was forced to call for a vote of confidence in his government after moves by Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams to bring down the coalition.

"The latest scandal to engulf the government results from Fine Gael's perpetual disgraceful handling of the campaign of vilification against Maurice McCabe and other Garda whistleblowers," Mr Adams said.

"Maurice McCabe's appalling treatment illustrates the absolute need for a culture of openness, within our policing, justice and our political system."

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