Politics must not distract from crisis of confidence in state institutions, says Human Rights Watchdog
Press Release – for immediate release
13 February 2017
The Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) today called for a renewed focus on the acute human rights issues presented by the McCabe case. Speaking on foot of further shocking revelations in the case over the weekend and again today, ICCL Executive Director Mr Liam Herrick said:
“The revelations over recent days about the operation of An Garda Síochána and Tusla – Child and Family Agency constitute one of the greatest crises of confidence in our State institutions in recent memory. While we understand that much of the focus in this case is shifting to questions of political responsibility, there is an urgent need for a comprehensive response to the egregious violations of the rights and civil liberties of the McCabe family. This must remain the primary focus of our response. More generally, policing and child protection are central to the protection of human rights in our society and these state agencies must not use the establishment of the Commission of Investigation to defer immediate action to address the very serious questions they face.”
ICCL highlights a number of important questions surrounding alleged efforts to smear Sgt McCabe, including unfounded allegations of child sexual abuse, which remain unanswered at the very highest levels of our state institutions:
• Serious questions remain outstanding surrounding the source of those rumours and allegations against Sgt McCabe in their various forms.
• Questions remain about the initial and subsequent response of the various state agencies to the false allegations against Sgt McCabe – both in terms of apparent failures to follow basic procedures and in relation to communication between state agencies.
• The creation and purported ‘clerical errors’ surrounding a file by Tusla containing false allegations of sexual abuse against Sgt McCabe demand further scrutiny. What investigations have been undertaken within Tusla to uncover the full circumstances of that record being produced and disseminated?
• We still are unclear as to what knowledge and/or involvement senior Garda management had of the false allegations against Sgt McCabe at different stages of this series of events.
• The wholly inadequate response of Tusla and the HSE when it became fully aware of the false nature of those allegations is still unexplained.
Highlighting the action that the ICCL believes needs to be taken, Mr Herrick said:
“ICCL believes that the terms of reference of the proposed Commission of Investigation must allow Judge Charleton to get to the bottom of the alleged smear campaign against Maurice McCabe. However, it is also now clear that the state agencies at the centre of this scandal face a profound crisis of public confidence – a crisis that cannot be deferred. Without an immediate response to the very disturbing treatment of a public servant in the course of his duty, confidence in the State’s institutions will continue to slide. There can be no question of delaying urgent reforms within Tusla and An Garda Síochána at this time. The ICCL believes that steps must be taken to restore public confidence and in doing so, relevant accountability and oversight agencies which may have a role in addressing these issues should be engaged; including GSOC, the Policing Authority, the Garda Inspectorate and the Data Protection Commissioner”.