A ‘Failure To Delete’ Error

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Katie Hannon and David McCullough on last night’s RTE Prime Time

Further to last week’s Prime Time in which Prime Time‘s political correspondent Katie Hannon outlined the sequence of events concerning how a false allegation against Sgt Maurice McCabe ended up being circulated by Tusla.

Last night.

Ms Hannon had further information, after speaking with the solicitor of the woman at the centre of the original allegation made in 2006; and after speaking with someone who has seen the Tusla referral document which contained the false abuse allegation.

The new information, as presented by Ms Hannon, means there are now conflicting accounts of how events unfolded – as put forward by the HSE, and subsequently the Minister for Health Simon Harris in the Dáil, Tusla, the Gardaí, and the solicitor for the woman at the centre of the original 2006 allegation.

The interview…

David McCullough: “Now, lest we forget all this political turmoil is the treatment of Garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe and the revelation last week by our political correspondent Katie Hannon of the false sex abuse allegations made against him. As Katie told us, last week, those allegations in 2013 arose after a counsellor said she pasted the allegation from another file in error. Katie joins me now. There is a tribunal of inquiry to look into this and related matters. But, in advance of that, the department of justice has written to the Garda Commissioner posing six questions that the McCabes want answered, relating to: when the Gardai first learned about the allegations, about contacts between gardai and the supposed victim and contacts between gardai and the counsellor. And Katie, you have some new information about this?”

Katie Hannon: “Yes. Of course, a huge amount of focus has focussed on this referral from this counsellor that had this, what was described as this clerical error, this cut and paste error. Now, I’ve spoken with somebody who’s actually seen this document. We haven’t seen this document because it wasn’t released to the McCabes in the Tusla file because it had been retrieved because of data protection by the counselling service.”

“But, according to my source, what the counsellor is now telling the management there is that: what actually happened there was not a cut and paste error. She was actually using the template of a previous referral and typing over it, with this new McCabe referral and failed to delete some information referring to the previous referral. So it wasn’t a ‘pasting in’ error, it was a ‘failure to delete’ error. And she says that she just simply did not notice that before she sent on the referral [to Tusla].”

“Now, according to the person that I was talking to, who has seen it, it should have been obvious to anyone looking at it that there was a mistake in it because, I’m told, there actually was the names of two alleged abusers on the file that went over. Like the phrase that was used to me was: it would have jumped off the page. So, why that happened in Tusla when were then using this document to create the other files, the referrals, the files on the [McCabe] children, that’s the question that remains now.”

McCullough: “There’s been a lot of focus on how this error was ultimately discovered.”

Hannon: “Yes, and I’ve confirmed today that the girl at the centre of this, who made the original allegation back in 2006, she has given an account of how this happened that does not tally with the account that the Health Minister Simon Harris put on the Dáil record this week.”

McCullough: “And in what way is it different?”

Hannon: “Well, first of all, Minister Harris told the Dail that, and he was using information that he got from the HSE, he said that the girl had contacted the counsellor to say that the allegation of digital rape was incorrect, that she had never made it and that’s how the mistake came to light. That’s what the Dáil was told.”

“But I spoke to the girl’s solicitor today and he tells me that that is not the case. He says that, this is the sequence of events: the girl’s mother made the initial appointment, for her, with this counsellor. She attended just once. She had no idea that a referral had gone to Tusla as a result of this one counselling session, until many months later, her family were contacted by the guards and they were asked to attend to the Garda station about this allegation. Her parents went to the Garda station, looked at this, were presented with the allegation and said immediately: this is not our daughter’s allegation, this was never made.”

“And according to the girl’s solicitor, this was the last that she had to do with it, that she, whoever contacted the counsellor, it wasn’t her.”

“And also, what this does is it raises questions about when the gardai first were aware of this mistake. We know that Tusla sent them the file in early May. According to this account, from this girl’s solicitor, the guards were informed that it was incorrect, there was a mistake in it, by the 4th or 5th of May and that’s not what the rest of the files show…”

McCullough: “What does the Tusla file say?”

Hannon: “Yeah, the Tusla file says that the first contact with the garda was the original investigating guard that investigated the 2006 complaint – that was done back in August 2013. We don’t know what came of that, if the meeting took place. We know that Tusla contacted the guards with the referral in early May. We know that they were told about the referral, from the counsellor, on the 14th of May [2014] and then they say, the file says they contacted the guards one or two days after that.”

McCullough: “Ok, so very, very briefly, we already have conflicting accounts here?”

Hannon: “We do, we’ve two serious conflicts. We’ve a conflict between the account that the minister [for health] gave the Dail this week to what the client says as regards when we found out about the error and there are other conflicts about when the guards knew about it in the first place and when the guards knew this second allegation was a mistake. So, you know, the attempt or demand for the answers to these six questions might be trickier I think than we think.”

McCullough: “Hence, the tribunal, ok, Katie, thank you very much.”

Watch back in full here

Previously: Pasted In Error

26 thoughts on “A ‘Failure To Delete’ Error

  1. ceo

    Is there any consensus on the events surrounding the original 2006 allegation. It seems to be mentioned in passing, but not analyzed. Did the Garda who was disciplined as a result of McCabe force his daughter to lie about the “hide and seek” incident? Or did he plant memories in her head and coerce her into making an allegation? Or did she genuinely believe there was an incident?

    I can’t get my head around this part and nobody seems to be discussing it. If a father got his daughter to make something like this up then it is pretty damn egregious.

    1. Anne

      The family deny what the gardai put in their report and they never contacted the gardai themselves.

      But I spoke to the girl’s solicitor today and he tells me that that is not the case. He says that, this is the sequence of events: the girl’s mother made the initial appointment, for her, with this counsellor. She attended just once. She had no idea that a referral had gone to Tusla as a result of this one counselling session, until many months later, her family were contacted by the guards and they were asked to attend to the Garda station about this allegation. Her parents went to the Garda station, looked at this, were presented with the allegation and said immediately: this is not our daughter’s allegation, this was never made.”

      “And according to the girl’s solicitor, this was the last that she had to do with it, that she, whoever contacted the counsellor, it wasn’t her.”

  2. steve k

    it all seems a bit unbelievable. You will that there are a lot of links between gardai, usually marital, and members of staff at tusla and the probation services.

  3. realPolithicks

    “So it wasn’t a ‘pasting in’ error, it was a ‘failure to delete’ error.”

    What a bunch of bs, I can’t tell with RTE’s coverage whether they are trying to help cover this story up or if they are genuinely trying to give an honest report of the situation.

    1. Mé Féin

      I was using a template with child-molestation charges before I wrote this comment. Sorry for any consternation caused.

    2. Anne

      My understanding of what RTE are saying based on inside information at Tusla it seems, is that the counsellor in Tusla put together a complaint using a document template.

      The template used wasn’t a blank template but a previous document used to detail a complaint against someone else.

      Some information was left on the new document/ McCabe’s file (it had the names of “two abusers”).

      So there was no copy and paste issue in relation to McCabe, it was just a clerical error in relation to not removing/(“failure to delete error”) details of another complaint.

      This clerical error was used as an excuse to say “whoops the whole thing was a clerical error. ”

      But just have a think about it..where were McCabe’s details copied from in error? It wouldn’t make any sense for Tusla to be saying they got his details from thin air and he ended up in a file at Tusla by mistake.

      There was a complaint made about him.

      A clerical error was made in one or more documents in a dossier specific to McCabe (“a file”) and that was used as an excuse to say his details were copied in, in error in the whole thing. Again ridiculous.

      RTE and Katie Hannon are not trying to confuse you at all..you just have to wade through the nonsense.

      1. realPolithicks

        I’m sorry but if anyone believes that this was an “error” then I have a bridge I would like to sell to you. At least one other garda whistleblower had a file opened up by Tusla, this is clearly a deliberate effort by the guards and tusla to set these men up and to discredit them.

    1. Anne

      That person would be just doing their job..name the Gardai is more appropriate. Then you’d be on the right track as to who instructed him. Rotten to the core.

      1. Anne

        on reflection, based on what the girl’s solicitor said, it seems there are connections between gardai and individuals at Tusla.

  4. Twunt

    Oh that is ok then. So the agency that is responsible for creating these reports into child abuse start by copying an old report and adding/deleting where necessary. Nothing to see here them, move along….

  5. ahjayzis

    I do this kind of thing all the time. Use a template file from a previous project and overwrite it to save time.

    I’m incredibly careful as ‘failure to delete’ could cost money or a planning decision.

    I deal with construction projects – not people’s lives, reputations, marriages, reputations, mental health.

    Sack this person immediately, this is gross, gross negligence.

    1. Adama

      What I don’t get from the RTE discussion is that okay, errors happen but it HAD to happen to the one file that caused a life-changing event and forced the McCabes life down one path? What are the chances of that?

      1. Anne

        Is Katie Hannon speaking another language or convoluting something unnecessarily maybe?

        What you said there is exactly what she’s getting at..and what’s more logical. McCabe’s details weren’t plucked from thin air.

    2. Anne

      MS word allows you to create templates (.dotx). Leave the unique bits blank in the template or put in a big red X for the bits that are unique. When you click on save when you have your details filled in on your template, you have to create a new document..that way your template is how you left it.

      A template really isnt a previously used document like.

      Btw if the information is the same for all your documents, you could create an excel file for the unique info and just do a mail merge, selecting the records to merge as required. You need to highlight over you big red x if course when youre telling the mail merge where to put what..it goes from the row headers of the excel file, so tick my document has headers when doing your merge.

      Haven’t done one in a while but they’re very handy. But anyway use proper templates (.dotx).. much better than writing over stuff.

      1. Sam

        I don’t believe this ‘template’, ‘clerical error’ stuff for a second.
        The spin doctors know that incompetence is more quickly forgiven than malice, so they are concocting a ‘screw up’ rather than admit to a stitch up.

        1. Enter Sandman

          I’m coming around to the view it was possibly incompetence which was then seized on by third parties as an opportunity to smear McCabe. I don’t credit the cops with enough smarts to orchestrate something like this through all the stages

        2. Anne

          Yeah, of course it was a stitch up. It’s kind of an insult to anyone’s intelligence to say we Ctrl c’d n Ctrl v’d McCabe’s details from somewhere..

          1. martco

            @Anne @Sam
            yep I’m with ye on this theory, I think there’s a chance that it’s not even possible to do it in the first place..I wrote up on that in an earlier post…I appealed for anyone with IT knowledge of the system implemented in Tusla to comment/clarify but must have got lost in the forest..anyways I used to do installations for data sensitive Govt customers like HSE in the past life

            I’m pretty sure the HSE/Tusla use SAP for data entry record keeping etc. Assuming that a secure installation is designed & implemented it would be a normal enough ask to have lockdowns in the stack somewhere to prevent things like cut/paste much in same vein as prevention of the removal of data by USB key etc.

            Now their story’s changing I’m definitely suspicious

            The whole thing smells

  6. Michael

    It’s a Word or PDF template with empty boxes to fill in. Download able from Tusla website and filled on Counsellor machine. And they work for HSE

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