As the Roscommon People, due to the sheer scale and significance of the scandal, finds itself reporting and commenting on the Maurice McCabe saga, time for me to declare an interest, I guess.
Garda Detective Maurice McCabe is a first cousin of mine.
His late mother, Peggy, and my mother, were sisters. Maurice is one of six children born to Peggy and Michael. Michael McCabe, Maurice’s father, is still alive and well. They are all, as the saying goes, ‘the finest of people’…
The family grew up near Ballyjamesduff in Co. Cavan. For many years they ran a hotel there – the Sheelin Shamrock Hotel. As kids, we had many happy times there.
I first heard of the McCabes’ ordeal about eight or nine years ago – from the man himself. Fiona and I were attending a family wedding and were seated with a number of cousins and their partners. Without getting into specifics, a clearly stressed Maurice McCabe chatted to us that day about the path he was on. He was a year or two into his whistleblowing by then. He was now paying a severe price, he told us, alluding to how he was being treated and indeed targeted.
While I found it all interesting – not to mention shocking – and obviously had sympathy for Maurice, I had no idea of how big this would all become.
Now, in 2017, it is obvious that there are a number of Garda whistleblowers in existence, and the anecdotal ‘evidence’ suggests that they have all been subjected to harassment – and worse. What has happened to Maurice McCabe (and his family) is almost beyond belief.
Maurice and Lorraine McCabe have this week welcomed the decision of the Government to hold a public Tribunal which will address the McCabe controversy, and one hopes that it will, in time, give them the justice they deserve.
As to who is culpable for this debacle, suffice to say that the hierarchy in An Garda Síochána has a lot of questions to answer. As in so many organisations and bodies, the rank and file are being let down by those at the top.
The vast majority of the thousands of men and women who are in An Garda Síochána are great, honourable, honest and hard-working people. People to whom we are indebted, people who serve society with distinction.
However, there is a very sinister cloud hanging over the Garda hierarchy. I might add that the same cloud also hangs over Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, who also have the most serious of questions to answer.
Who can say where this scandal will end? It has, if I may borrow Pat Rabbitte’s phrase from another time, truly rocked the state. It may take years to get to that end. Before we get there, or when we get there, some heads need to roll, and some serious change needs to be implemented.
Because, just now, this crisis involving Garda hierarchy, state agencies and perhaps even sections of the political establishment, absolutely stinks.