From top: Fianna Fáil’s John McGuinness in the Dáil yesterday; Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan and Superintendant Noel Cunningham at the Association of Garda Superintendents conference last month; and the late Shane O’Farrell
TDs continued to make statements on the report of the Justice O’Higgins Commission of Investigation into allegations of malpractice made by Sgt Maurice McCabe.
This is what Fianna Fáil TD John McGuinness said…
In the workings of the Committee of Public Accounts over the past five years, one of the most impressive witnesses who came before us and the only witness who came before us in private session was Sergeant Maurice McCabe.
Everything he said was supported by documentary evidence. Those who were concerned about how he might behave or what he might say during the course of that meeting of the Committee of Public Accounts were impressed afterwards by the fact that he presented well and proved anything he spoke and that the documents he presented to the committee showed us that there was, in my opinion, a lot of corruption within the force at that time.
A circular dated 4 July 2011 signed by the chief superintendent, C. M. Rooney, that went out to the Assistant Commissioners and district officers in the Cavan-Monaghan division, stated clearly that on 24 June 2011, Mr. Rooney had a meeting with Assistant Commissioner for national support services, Derek Byrne, at Monaghan Garda station.
It stated that the Assistant Commissioner informed Mr. Rooney that he had completed his investigation into complaints made by Sergeant Maurice McCabe and that the findings of the investigation were approved by the Garda Commissioner.
It stated that the investigation concluded that there was no systemic failure identified in the management and administration of Bailieborough Garda district.
It stated that a number of minor procedural issues were identified and that on further investigation at local level, no evidence was found to substantiate the alleged breach of procedure.
It stated that the assistant commissioner further concluded that there was no criminal conduct identified on the part of any member of the district force.
He stated that he would like to congratulate all members who served in Bailieborough district during the period in question and, in particular, Sergeant Gavigan, who provided leadership, enthusiasm and commitment and who partly steered the station through the crisis that had occurred.
It stated that the findings of the assistant commissioner vindicate the high standard and professionalism of the district force in Bailieborough and that he appreciated the manner in which the members of the district participating in the investigation were open and truthful in their account of the events surrounding the allegations.
It said he hoped all members and their families could put this difficult period behind them and continue to serve the public and their colleagues in an efficient and professional manner.
One has to take that letter into consideration when one reads the O’Higgins report because all of the cases mentioned by Garda McCabe, and which are mentioned in the O’Higgins report clearly contradict everything in that letter.
There is a serious conflict here; somebody is wrong. This letter was given to the assistant commissioner and each district officer in the Cavan-Monaghan division.
I gave an account of when Garda McCabe came before the Committee of Public Accounts. Every effort was made by those within the Garda Síochána at senior level to discredit Garda Maurice McCabe.
The Garda Commissioner confided in me in a car park on the Naas Road that Garda McCabe was not to be trusted and there were serious issues about him.
The vile stories that circulated about Garda McCabe, which were promoted by senior officers in the Garda, were absolutely appalling. Because they attempted to discredit him, he had to bring forward various pieces of strong evidence to protect his integrity.
During the course of that time, we have to recognise that the political establishment was of absolutely no help to him.
Every effort was made to ensure he would not appear before the Committee of Public Accounts. Every effort was made to dampen down the strong evidence he put into the public domain, which he had to do to protect himself, to inform us about what was going on with penalty points and other issues.
On 17 May, the Minister for Justice and Equality answered a parliamentary question on the death of Shane O’Farrell.
His mother, Lucia O’Farrell, has been campaigning since that time to have an investigation into it. The Minister relies on the review mechanism and the findings of that mechanism which she put in place.
At that time, the result of that review mechanism was that nothing further was to be done in Lucia O’Farrell’s case. Deputy Mick Wallace and others have already mentioned the name of officer Cunningham. In view of the findings and what is going on, will the Minister now reopen the case of the death of Shane O’Farrell?
Will she find out why a garda had stopped that car one hour before and asked the driver to change with the passenger because there was no tax or insurance?
The passenger then drove the car that later killed – murdered – Shane O’Farrell.
We have to reopen that case because everything in it tells us what is wrong with the Garda and the Department of Justice and Equality. We are part of a cover-up in this House if we do not clearly demand that the case be reinvestigated.
There are similar cases, such as the Fr. Molloy case and the Mary Boyle case. Why is it that the State has to stonewall each and every one of these cases?
Why is it we have to protect those who should not be protected? In whose interest is it or what is it in the interest of?
In the interests of justice, these cases have to be examined. The Minister cannot ignore this debate. She cannot ignore the facts around the officers involved in that station relative to the Shane O’Farrell case in particular.
We cannot ignore the activities of those officers who deliberately went about to set up and discredit Sergeant Maurice McCabe. They have to be independently investigated.
It has been said they are being referred to GSOC. I heard former Chief Superintendent John O’Brien this morning on the radio, who likened an investigation by GSOC to being mauled by a dead sheep. That is what he said and that is the view of the public.
For far too long in this House and in politics we have stuck to the same old politics.
In our actions, we have protected the system when that system was delivering an injustice to individuals and families throughout the country. There have been demands for the Minister and Commissioner to resign but the culture has to be changed.
That is essentially where the problem lies. We are afraid to attempt to change that culture because of the vested interests that exist. We say that we passed the legislation on protected disclosures and that now, at this late stage, the Commissioner will do something about it.
There are individuals across every Department who are affected by bullying and harassment. Their stories are being dampened down and they are being discriminated against and sanctioned for telling the truth.
The one thing this House seems to be afraid of is the truth. We are hearing the truth from Maurice McCabe. We have heard it from the whistleblowers in the Department of Finance and AIB and from the other whistleblowers in the Garda Síochána. We have done nothing about it.
I have heard at first hand a recent case which has been sorted by the Garda where a young garda was put into a situation and had to pee in a bottle rather than leave his station because he knew he was being set up.
Is that what we stand for in this House? Is that the injustice we will allow to happen?
Kicking this can down the road will not solve this problem. It will not give us the strength of the Garda that is needed to deal with the issues of crime on Dublin streets that we see at the moment.
I agree with Paul Williams who said gardaí were lions led by donkeys. He gave descriptions of all sorts of things that are happening in Dublin about which nothing is being done. The gardaí on the beat need to be supported.
Whatever it costs the State, we need to put money and resources behind them. We need to stop bluffing and stop the politically correct contributions we are making on all these issues and start to take real, imaginative and radical steps to ensure we have an independent authority that will protect the likes of Maurice McCabe.
I received an anonymous letter from an individual asking what was written on the note that was passed on the day of the Committee of Public Accounts from the current Commissioner to the former Commissioner, Martin Callinan, before he uttered the word “disgusting”.
The writer wonders if he was prompted or encouraged to do it. It has to be asked how much does the current Commissioner know and how far did the outgoing Commissioner go to discredit Maurice McCabe? It is an appalling vista as one looks at this issue.
The Minister and Members of the House have to give leadership. There must be political leadership.
My demand is that we reopen the cases before the commission, like that of Shane O’Farrell, Mary Boyle and the others, and face the truth.
We need to protect the whistleblowers that are currently being sanctioned and treated badly. It continued after the penalty points issue. Maurice McCabe highlighted that and we did nothing about it.
Transcript via Oireachtas.ie
Previously: Unsolved Ireland