Tribunal accuses Child and Family Agency of `astounding…

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A tribunal investigating the Irish police force has accused the Irish Health Service Executive’s Child and Family Agency (Tusla) of “astounding inefficiency” and instructed them to “do a day of work”.

A police whistleblower whose malpractice claims almost brought down the Irish Government faced unfounded and false allegations of a sexual assault.

Sergeant Maurice McCabe had accused the force of malpractice including the quashing of penalty points, and later made a complaint against former commissioner Martin Callinan, the head of the Irish police force.

An unfounded allegation was first made against Sgt McCabe in 2006, and by April 2007 the Director of Public Prosecutions decided no offence had been disclosed and social services decided to take no further action.

The Disclosures Tribunal report, published on Thursday, noted: “That should have been the end of any allegation that Maurice McCabe had ever sexually assaulted a child.”

In 2013, within a counselling organisation, a mistake was made in transcribing an account of rape by a different woman, attributing the accusation to Sgt McCabe’s alleged complainant.

Maurice McCabe had accused the force of malpractice (Niall Carson/PA)

Maurice McCabe had accused the force of malpractice (Niall Carson/PA)

A mistaken report was then made to the gardai by Tusla in 2014 alleging that Sgt McCabe had been accused of a rape offence.

At a time when there was considerable public interest in Sgt McCabe after he had disclosed bad practice within the gardai, an incorrect report, accusing him of a rape offence, was maintained in Garda Headquarters.

“When the Northern Region learned of the inaccuracy of that report, the assistant commissioner did not correct it to Garda Headquarters,” the report said.

“The false report had an afterlife within Tusla, because of the astounding inefficiency of that organisation and the inertia of its management.”

The report also criticised the agency for its reaction to criticism and their senior management’s appearance before the tribunal.

“The soundness of any organisation may usefully be judged by the reaction it has to the mistakes it makes.

“Both the reaction of Tusla and the reaction of An Garda Siochana to mistakes both made are disheartening.

“Central to dealing with inefficiencies and with mistakes, as an inevitable part of human life, is the need to face up to them, to report honestly on them and to address them by improvement.

“The response from within Tusla, at least, has been for senior officials to appear before the tribunal and to offer withering criticisms of structures, personnel and conduct within the organisation.

“It is not for the tribunal to advise on administrative matters; beyond saying that it is clear that management need to wake up and actually do a day of work.

“Whatever changes need to be made can be identified from this report and through the exercise of common sense.”

The saga surrounding the handling of his disclosure of alleged wrongdoing among police in the Irish border counties of Cavan-Monaghan contributed to the end of the careers of former taoiseach Enda Kenny, two former chiefs of the Garda force and ex-justice minister and later deputy prime minister Frances Fitzgerald.

The Child and Family Agency (Tusla) is the dedicated State agency responsible for improving wellbeing and outcomes for children.

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