Garda whistleblower scandal
In 2014, material revealed by two Garda Síochána (Irish police) whistleblowers, Maurice McCabe and John Wilson, as well as the handling of the material and of the whistleblowers, led directly to the resignation of Ireland's then Minister for Justice and Equality, Alan Shatter. It was also part of the background leading up to the resignation of the Garda Commissioner, Martin Callinan.
The ensuing scandal has helped contribute to:
- the resignation of Martin Callinan as Garda Commissioner in March 2014.
- the vindication of Gemma O'Doherty, the journalist fired by the Irish Independent for her pursuit of the story.
- the resignation of Alan Shatter as Minister for Justice and the vindication of McCabe in May 2014, when Shatter admitted to McCabe's role in his resignation.
- the establishment of an independent Garda authority.
- plans for a “new era of policing”, according to the Irish government.
- an apology from the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, in the Dáil for "the issues that he [Maurice McCabe] raised and for the fact that his raising these matters wasn’t dealt with more speedily in the first instance."
It was one of a number of incidents at the time involving the Gardaí and the Minister for Justice and Equality.
Maurice McCabe is a Garda Sergeant, recognised for being a whistleblower on corruption within An Garda Síochána, Ireland's national police force.
McCabe was station sergeant in Bailieborough, County Cavan. After becoming concerned about an investigation into a serious assault he made a complaint, then some more, a number of which were upheld. After McCabe made use of the "confidential recipient" system to express his concerns, his district superior ordered him to cease use of the Garda Pulse system on 14 December 2012. McCabe had used the system to examine files linked to large-scale abuse of the penalty points system. On 30 December, two senior officers officially traveled from Westmeath to his house in Cavan, an unheard-of event in the force, to tell him they were restricting his access to the Pulse system.
McCabe later approached Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Transport Minister Leo Varadkar, who passed details on to Justice Minister Alan Shatter. Shatter asked for an internal garda inquiry into the penalty points complaints, with Assistant Commissioner John O'Mahoney failing to even interview McCabe. A letter from McCabe, read onto the Oireachtas record, said the way the matter had been handled had "destroyed me, my career and my family". Shatter later wrongly accused McCabe of refusing to co-operate with his inquiry, a claim for which McCabe unsuccessfully sought an apology.
Wilson first brought information of Garda penalty points malpractice to the attention of members of Dáil Éireann under the Garda Siochána Act 2005 in 2012, having been unable to have the matter adequately handled within the Garda Complaints System. He left the force the following year, having served for more than 30 years (since 1982).  In 2013, Wilson brought a High Court challenge to findings that he breached Garda discipline, but lost.
Wilson later approached Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Transport Minister Leo Varadkar, who passed details on to Justice Minister Alan Shatter. Shatter asked for an internal garda inquiry into the penalty points complaints, with Assistant Commissioner John O'Mahoney failing to even interview Wilson.
Wilson has recommended no tribunal, but has called for an independent public inquiry. "Maybe an independent High Court judge; I would settle for that." He has asked that motorists who benefited from the alleged "corruption of Gardaí" be interviewed. He also called for an apology from Shatter (who later resigned over the scandal) and from Kenny, saying that Shatter and Callinan "ridiculed" him for his actions.
In response to growing concern at mismanagement within the Gardaí arising from the whistleblower's allegations, the Guerin Report into corruption within the Garda Síochána (Ireland's national police force) was published on 9 May 2014. This looked only at issues raised by the serving Garda, Sergeant Maurice McCabe.
The report, compiled by Sean Guerin SC, investigated allegations that serious crimes were improperly investigated by the police and was critical of the treatment of whistleblower McCabe, who was harassed and subjected to death threats after attempting to disclose information. Alan Shatter resigned as Minister for Justice and Equality in advance of its publication. His successor Frances Fitzgerald immediately announced the establishment of a Commission of Investigation.
Guerin recommended the establishment of a comprehensive Commission of Investigation whose terms of reference ought to include “definite matters of urgent public importance” such as the case of Jerry McGrath, who was convicted of murdering Sylvia Roche-Kelly in Limerick while on bail in 2007.
Guerin concluded: "No complex organisation can succeed in its task if it cannot find the means of heeding the voice of a member whose immediate supervisors hold in the high regard in which Sgt McCabe was held. Ultimately An Garda Síochána does not seem to have been able to do that. Nor does the Minister for Justice and Equality, despite his having an independent supervisory and investigation function with specific statutory powers. The same appears true of GSOC (Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission), although this review is hampered in that regard by the fact that GSOC has not made documentation available."
On 13 May 2014, the government discussed the report at cabinet. Maurice McCabe, the whistleblower whose work prompted the report, spoke of feeling vindicated "after six years of fighting the system".
McCabe's fellow whistleblower John Wilson described the contents of the report as "disgusting, truly disgusting".
On 9 February 2017, a report in the Irish Examiner, and a subsequent Prime Time special, revealed how Maurice McCabe was treated in the aftermath of the scandal, including when he was reported to Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, for child sexual abuse. This provoked outrage, with McCabe stating his intention to sue the State over the accusations. In February 2017, the government promised another commission of investigation into the 2017 allegations, to be chaired by Peter Charleton, a judge of the Supreme Court. McCabe demanded a Tribunal of Inquiry, which would take evidence in public rather than in private, and the government agreed to this after opposition pressure.
Charleton formally opened the Disclosures Tribunal (Tribunal of Inquiry into protected disclosures made under the Protected Disclosures Act 2014 and certain other matters following Resolutions) with an introductory statement on 27 February 2017. Public sittings commenced on 4 July 2017. The first week of this module examined the circumstances surrounding the creation of an incorrect sexual abuse report and whether it was seized upon by senior gardai to blacken Sergeant McCabe's name.
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- "EXCLUSIVE: False sex allegation against McCabe circulated by Tusla following "clerical error"". 2017-02-09. Retrieved 2017-02-27.
- "After days of political turmoil, tribunal on way". RTÉ.ie. 14 February 2017. Retrieved 27 February 2017.
- "Judge outlines details of McCabe tribunal". RTÉ.ie. 27 February 2017. Retrieved 27 February 2017.
- Phelan, Shane (9 July 2017). "Chain of errors fed false claims about McCabe". Sunday Independent.