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Dublin: 5 °C Thursday 9 April, 2020

Tribunal 'might have been unnecessary' had Tusla admitted what happened with McCabe allegation

The Charleton report charges the child and family agency of “astounding inefficiency”.

Maurice McCabe
Maurice McCabe
Image: Leah Farrell

HAD TUSLA ADMITTED mishandling a false rape claim made against Sergeant Maurice McCabe, the Disclosures Tribunal might not have been necessary, according to a report released today. 

A catalogue of mistakes and failures meant that McCabe was falsely accused of digitally penetrating a child. It was the job of the Disclosures Tribunal to find out how it happened.

McCabe received a letter from a Tusla social care worker in December 2015 accusing him of a rape offence.

In his report released today, Justice Peter Charleton heavily criticised Tusla staff saying that the agency was guilty of “considerable failings and stupidities”.

Charleton slammed the child and family agency for giving the “erroneous” allegation an “afterlife” in the form of a file which went uncorrected. 

“This was not due to any action by gardaí, but was because of the astounding inefficiency of that organisation and the inertia of its management in Cavan/Monaghan.”

Had Tusla admitted what had happened then the tribunal might not have been necessary.

The report notes that an “unidentifiable person” in the Cavan /Monaghan area had “filleted” the file so that the full extent of the inefficiencies in that area remained unknown to the Dublin-based Sexual Abuse Regional Team, which received the file in 2016.

From 2016, no one within Tusla considered owning up to the serious mistakes that had been made, the Charelton report notes. 

Had Tusla senior management read the file and replied by setting out mistakes made at the agency then “this tribunal of inquiry would most probably have been avoided”.

“Tusla were slow to respond to the public request for cooperation by the tribunal.”

Statements made were laconic to the point of being mysterious. The tribunal had to seek further information and identify witnesses who might cast light on matters, who had not yet revealed themselves.

These statements then had to be called in evidence at the tribunal because they contained “important evidence”.

This kind of holding back is bad enough from a private citizen, never mind a public body.
In a statement today, Tusla said it wished “to reiterate our sincere apology to Sergeant McCabe and each member of his family for the impact Tusla’s errors had on them.
Tusla is sincerely sorry that its standards did not meet those which could be reasonably expected by Sergeant McCabe and his family.

The agency apologised to others who were affected by the errors that were made and said that it “will now study the findings in detail to enhance our current programme of reform and improvement, where possible.”


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