There’s nothing new about the Garda attempts to destroy Maurice McCabe using false accusations of sexual abuse. Indeed, this technique is such a normal part of Garda procedures that they don’t even realise it might be wrong. And of course, due to the flawed recruitment structures of our national police force, all senior Gardai started out as junior Gardai, carrying with them throughout their careers the lessons they learned in their teens and twenties . Their attitudes were formed in the quasi-monastic environment of Templemore, their certainties were reinforced in the daily drudge of street-duty and the message they learned is a simple one: It’s Us against Them.
Since there has until recently been no induction from outside, there is no cleansing of the water. All the senior management are former grunts who paid their dues by pounding the beat. They all ate the doughnuts and they all had their hawks. Because nobody from outside has ever been appointed to lead the organisation, there has been no possibility of introducing a new vision, uncontaminated by the stale, cynical thinking of the past.
What are the chances, then, of a Garda Commissioner being shocked by some of the shadier practices ingrained in the force? Why would a Commissioner coming from this gene pool not consider it perfectly legitimate for members of the force to smear a perceived enemy with foul sexual slurs?
Some years ago, I was friendly with a Garda, and we shared many enjoyable jugs of ale together. He was a nice guy but with a tendency to be indiscreet, and he told with great glee the stories of how they searched the homes of suspects.
Well, you see, when we were going through the place, we’d bring a few filthy magazines and we’d just happen to find them while his wife was watching.
Any honest Garda will admit that this is the culture of the force.
Maurice McCabe broke the ultimate taboo of any police force anywhere. He violated the omerta that motivates all policemen, by being stupid and naive. Maurice McCabe just assumed that honesty, integrity and decency are essential elements of policing, and how wrong he was.
By exposing petty corruption concerning speeding tickets, he has been falsely smeared as a sex offender, described as disgusting by a Garda Commissioner and placed on a sex offenders register by another state agency.
Maurice McCabe’s problems started when he made a legitimate complaint that led to a colleague being disciplined.
Not long after that event, his colleague used his own young daughter as a pawn in a vindictive game to accuse McCabe of inappropriate behaviour. Even the gardai who submitted the report to the DPP confirmed that the complaint had little substance, while the DPP observed that the behaviour complained of was probably not even an offence in the first place. Otherwise, we’d all be in front of a court for chasing children in a birthday hide-and-seek game.
The complaint was dismissed out of hand and so it rested until an unnamed counsellor, we’re invited to believe, submitted a report to Tusla, the child protection agency, alleging that Maurice McCabe had raped a child.
Let it be said now that this complaint was entirely false.
The counsellor responsible for this false allegation later acknowledged that it was a mistake. An administrative error.
Somehow, a vicious allegation of the worst kind had been accidentally copied and pasted from another file into the file — of all people — of the same man who stood in severe conflict with our national police force.
What are the chances?
What are the chances that a counsellor would have two documents open at the same time on a computer? One file would be that of a client sexually abused as a child, and the other would be an old file, long-closed and discredited. And yet, somehow, details of the most vile abuse are somehow copied and pasted into the document relating to a blameless man. Furthermore, the professional who made this clerical error failed to read over the final document and check its accuracy before transmitting it to the Gardai. What are the chances of that?
And if Brendan Howlin is to be believed in his statement to the Dáil, these horrible calumnies were being repeated by the incumbent Garda Commissioner even after their author had admitted they were false. If Brendan Howlin is to be believed, the current Commissioner was actively urging certain journalists to publish these lies.
There are many questions to be answered about this, among them the following.
First: how did Maurice McCabe’s closed file just happen to be on the counsellor’s computer when this accidental copy-and-paste took place?
Second: why did the counsellor send this information directly to Tusla instead of following established reporting procedures?
Third: why did Tusla not investigate these extremely serious allegations?
Fourth: why was there no Garda investigation of this alleged crime?
Fifth: why was Maurice McCabe not informed of this life-destroying allegation?
Sixth: on what authority did Tusla open files on the two children of Maurice McCabe who were adults at the time of the false allegation?
It’s about time the Gardai were examined in depth. It’s about time we asked ourselves if we have a police force fit for purpose. After all, how many police forces refer to their employees as Members?
Hard questions need to be asked about the relationship between an Garda Síochána and Tusla. Did somebody talk to somebody about Maurice McCabe?
These are not questions that can be answered by an insider. These questions need to be asked by somebody who has no connection to Irish affairs.
We are talking here about something fundamental to our society because this is all extremely sinister. What happens to Maurice McCabe today can happen to you and me tomorrow. This is an attack on our democracy. Even seeking a benign interpretation of events, this looks sinister. There is no innocent interpretation of what has been done here.
If the government fails to address this attack on our democracy head-on, that government must collapse.
Previously on Bock
Guerin inquiry report on Garda handling of McCabe allegations
All Garda-related posts HERE
Fintan O’Toole on the McCabe scandal