Seldom can a Public Inquiry have produced a report of such clarity as the publication this week of the Disclosures Tribunal Report into the destruction of the reputation of Sgt Maurice McCabe. Justice Peter Charleton identified three culprits: the head of An Garda Síochána, Commissioner Martin Callinan, the Press Officer, Supt. David Taylor and the Child and Family Agency, Tulsa.
The latter, whose handling of a file which should have been filed ‘dead’ in 2006 is quite without precedent. A social worker appeared to have erroneously placed a horrendous report of sexual crimes against a young girl on the file and the error was never corrected. Instead the toxic file took on a life of its own and, at one stage, a letter falsely accusing McCabe of sexual crimes was opened by his wife! The contents of the file were circulated to Garda headquarters and then to Press Officer David Taylor.
It is a sorry situation but organisations do not like whistle-blowers. With An Garda Síochána there is a strong loyalty which arises out of the nature of the work. Under Callinan’s watch this was encouraged and whistle-blowers creditability was to be attacked. In his Press Officer, Callinan found an alley to assist him in his efforts to do down McCabe. Charleton used the word ‘calumny’ around 50 times in his 406 page report to describe the accumulation of lies told by both men in their efforts to destroy McCabe’s creditability.
Problems with Garda structures were looked at by the Morris Tribunal 10 years ago.
Changes were put into effect and structures improved. But structures have proved to be subservient to Garda culture. This needs to change. The truth should be paramount. Backing up fellow Garda should never compromise the facts of the case.
It seems that inside An Garda Síochána we have the situation Isaiah 59 described: –
So justice is driven back,
and righteousness stands at a distance;
truth has stumbled in the streets,
honesty cannot enter.
Truth is nowhere to be found,
and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey.
In this case McCabe was the prey. How many more McCabe’s will it take before the culture is corrected?
In Isaiah’s day it took a period in exile, away from their land and centuries of hardship before the Christ came. His revelation of truth did not compromise even at death. In fact, his death became the gateway to glory for all truth lovers who walk in his ways.