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The rot around the McCabe saga

On the Edge

On The Edge
Áine Ryan

IT is a shame Shakespeare isn’t still alive. He could write a great comedy of errors about the latest shambolic scenes in the Irish parliament. If they weren’t so serious they would be hilarious.
As Marcellus, from Hamlet, said: “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.” But doesn’t one expect corruption to be more like the scene played out in the increasingly crazy US administration last week? Retired General Michael Flynn was dismissed by The Donald for his rather cosy conversations about national security with the Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak before Mr Trump was elected to the White House. This was in breach of the Logan Act which prohibits private citizens from engaging in diplomacy with any foreign power.
As clever as the Bard of Stratford-on-Avon was, methinks perchance, that the shenanigans over Sergeant Maurice McCabe in the Dáil last week would have left him scratching his beard with his quill.
All this decent garda did was make a number of allegations back in 2008 about a culture of malpractice by some of his colleagues. Among the issues exposed was the cancelling of penalty points for people, some of whom were in the public domain and in privileged positions.
Significantly, a report by a retired judge, published last year, found Sgt McCabe’s claims to be well-founded. Shouldn’t his superiors have welcomed these findings? Shouldn’t they have honoured him for his bravery and integrity in sticking his neck above the parapet to ensure high-standards were maintained in the national police force?  
Instead an honest whistleblower was treated like a pariah and was the subject of an insidious campaign to destroy his good name. Indeed, another  garda whistleblower, David Taylor, a former head of the Garda Press Office, confirmed that the campaign against McCabe was carried out among the highest echelons in the force. This has been rejected by Commissioner Noirín O’Sullivan.    

Valentine’s Day fiasco
FAST-forward to last Tuesday, February 14, a Valentine’s Day in which Taoiseach Enda Kenny did not come up smelling of roses, despite his hand-on-heart admission of ‘mea culpa’. He had gotten the facts around his discussions with Minister for Children, Katherine Zappone confused. Turned out a conversation he said he had with her was in fact a conversation between their officials. Well, he is a busy man, isn’t he?   
And after all, spokespersons and spin-doctors effectively metapmorphise into alter-egos for heads of State, and other important persons, in these days of ‘fake news’ and ‘alternative realities’, which are dictated by an insatiable media monster. And there is also the possibility if that holier-than-thou Zappone had been hanging around the corridors of power for a little longer, she would have learned to keep her mouth shut, stay schtum and nod and wink like the best of them.
But then that doesn’t exactly take away from the Tusla file which contained false allegations of sexual assault against a child by Sgt McCabe. The State agency for the protection of children says it was all a copy and pasting clerical error. Ultimately the Cabinet’s hand was forced into upgrading the investigation into a public Tribunal of Inquiry.

Low standards in high places
BUT why has this debacle been allowed to trundle along? Why wasn’t there a root-and-branch excision of low standards in high places? It is almost three years now since former Commissioner Martin Callinan and Minister for Justice Alan Shatter resigned because of controversies over McCabe’s treatment. It is hard to forget his ‘disgusting’ claims about whistleblowers in front of a PAC (Public Accounts Committee) hearing.  
Indeed, it has since transpired that Mr Callinan arranged to meet the then Chairman of the PAC, John McGuinness, in an attempt to propagate the false claims about McCabe’s sexual behaviour with the underage daughter of a garda who was a subject of his complaints.   
Fundamental to the fact that this disgraceful debacle has been allowed continue is the too-cosy relationship between members of the Executive arm of our State with senior members of An Garda Síochána. But even more fundamental is the fact that the media failed in its duty to hold this litany of false claims about a good and decent garda to proper scrutiny.
Those waiting in the long grass to dethrone Enda Kenny may be licking their lips about his bungling of this latest twist in the McCabe saga, but are they not also part of the rot that is in the State of Ireland?

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