McCabe controversy: Public inquiry into claims

Sgt Maurice McCabe Image copyright PA
Image caption Sgt Maurice McCabe said on Monday he strongly opposed an inquiry in private

There will be a public inquiry into whether a police whistleblower was falsely smeared by senior officers in the force as a child sex abuser, the Irish prime minister has said.

Enda Kenny said the decision, in principle, was reached at a cabinet meeting.

He said the terms of reference had yet to be finalised.

Sgt Maurice McCabe said on Monday he strongly opposed an inquiry in private.

Mr Kenny said Gerry Adams was an "absolute hypocrite" after the Sinn Féin leader criticised the Irish government over its handling of the false smear of child sex abuse against Sgt McCabe.

"You're an absolute hypocrite, absolute hypocrite," Mr Kenny replied.

He mentioned how republicans treated Belfast woman Máiría Cahill and what happened to "young men abused in safe houses by members of your organisation".

Mr Adams replied that he was not going to rise to Mr Kenny's "bluster".

The Fianna Fáil leader, Micheál Martin, strongly criticised what he called the casual approach on the part of the authorities to the false allegation regarding Sgt McCabe.

'Effective process'

Mr Kenny said on Tuesday he hoped that the terms of reference for the public inquiry would be concluded within the next 48 hours.

He added that the perception of the gardaí (police) at higher levels has not been what it should be and that it would take some time to change that culture.

"What is required here is an effective process to deal with the central issue, which is: Was there a deliberate smear campaign against Maurice McCabe by senior gardaí?

"I can confirm that we have agreed in principle that we are to set up a tribunal of inquiry under the 1921 Act."

Image copyright RTE
Image caption Mr Kenny has previously said he was going to find the most effective way of getting to the truth

He added that "the entire country has sympathy for Sgt McCabe and his family".

The controversy began more than three years ago when two whistleblowers - Sgt McCabe and the now retired John Wilson - alleged there was widespread corruption with the Republic of Ireland's driving licence penalty points system.

The Garda (Irish police) commissioner last week denied telling journalists that Sgt McCabe was facing sex crime allegations.

The claim against Nóirín O'Sullivan was made by Irish Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin in the Dáil (Irish parliament).

Ms O'Sullivan said she was surprised by and refuted Mr Howlin's claim.

The commissioner reiterated her position on Monday.

Previously, Mr Kenny has said he was not ruling out a criminal investigation into the matter but that there had to be evidence of criminality.

A commission has been established to examine whether there was a smear campaign against Sgt McCabe orchestrated by senior police officers.

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