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Tusla to appear before Dáil committee next week as McCabe controversy rumbles on

The main players have been having their say on the ongoing scandal.
Feb 13th 2017, 2:50 PM 33,647 195

Commission of Inquiry Maurice McCabe. Source: Laura Hutton/RollingNews.ie

Updated 2.50pm 

TUSLA HAS AGREED to appear before the Oireachtas Committee on Children and Youth Affairs this month, as the row over the scandal related to former garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe continued today.

The agency had earlier apologised to McCabe, as part of the ongoing fallout from “a clerical error” from the Child and Family Agency that led to the circulation of a false sex abuse allegation against McCabe.

On Friday, the chair of the Children’s Committee, Fine Gael TD Jim Daly tweeted that he had asked the CEO of Tusla to address the “procedures and controls” at the agency.

Today, it has been confirmed that the Tusla CEO and at least one other member of senior management at the agency will appear before the committee next Wednesday 22 February at 10.30am.

Yesterday, it emerged that McCabe has rejected the HSE’s apology to him and his family.

McCabe and his wife Lorraine told RTÉ News that they decided to have no further engagement with the HSE or Tusla after both offered him apologies in the wake of revelations of a file containing false allegations of sexual abuse against him.

McCabe

In a statement read out by Áine Lawlor yesterday, the McCabes said:

“The HSE statement is wrong and this is not good enough. The file we have contradicts the statement and it is shocking that we have to again listen and deal with false information.”

RTÉ has also received a statement from Health Minister Simon Harris, which says that the HSE is attempting to contact McCabe, who he says deserves “truth and justice”.

HSE

The HSE said that the issue related to an “administrative error”.

The HSE apologises unreservedly to Mr. McCabe and his family for the distress caused on foot of this error. The HSE is making arrangements to offer this apology formally to Mr. McCabe as soon as possible.

“The HSE will fully co-operate with any Inquiry or Investigation into this matter.”

Justice Minister

1916 Centenary Commemorative Medal ceremony Source: PA Wire/PA Images

For her part, Tánaiste and Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald said that she knew nothing of the allegations before last week’s Prime Time programme. This despite Fianna Fáil’s contention that their Justice spokesperson Jim O’Callaghan had briefed her on the content of the programme before it aired.

“Deputy O’Callaghan said to me that Prime Time would have a programme the following evening related the establishment of the Commission. At no point did he mention Tusla or any of the details that emerged in the programme. If Deputy O’Callaghan had information concerning the Tusla file, why did he not raise those issues during his statement on the Commission’s Terms of Reference which took place the following day?”

Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Justice

File Photo Jim O'Callaghan Sgt McCabe Issue Source: Sam Boal/AP

Speaking to Sean O’Rourke on RTÉ Radio today, Jim O’Callaghan said he was “100% certain” that he mentioned the Tusla file to Fitzgerald.

“I’m 100% certain that I did mention Tusla and I’m also 100% certain that I said to the Tánaiste, and the words I used were – ‘Frances, you need to speak to Katherine Zappone’ because she has met Sgt McCabe and she has full knowledge about this issue.”

Political reaction, call for debate

Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone, who met with McCabe, is due back to the country this week.

Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald accused the government of “making it up as they go along”.

AAA-PBP TDs Ruth Coppinger, Mick Barry and Paul Murphy said that they wanted a full Dáil debate on the issue tomorrow.

In a statement they said:

“What has emerged in recent days in relation to the treatment of Maurice McCabe and other whistleblowers is disgusting. It points to a dirty smear campaign orchestrated by the highest echelons of the Gardaí, facilitated by a section of the media. This represents a fundamental attack on people’s rights by an arm of the state.”

Fianna Fáil spokesperson on public expenditure Dara Calleary said that he can’t understand how Frances Fitzgerald didn’t follow-up with Zappone when she told her she was meeting with McCabe.

With reporting from Sean Murray

Read: Sinn Féin to publish motion of no confidence in government today

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