10 February 2017
As was confirmed in a statement by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs this afternoon, Minister Zappone became aware in mid-January of an issue affecting Sgt McCabe which related to her Department. As the statement points out Minister Zappone has taken and is taking a number of steps to deal with this matter.
She informed me in January that she intended to meet with Sgt McCabe. She of course did not inform me about any details in relation to confidential Tusla records.
The Terms of Reference of the proposed Commission put before the Oireachtas by me refer specifically to a complaint of criminal misconduct against Sgt McCabe and whether this allegation was used against him.
I have always been scrupulous to avoid any comment in the Dáil on what was at issue in the criminal complaint against Sgt. McCabe, referred to in the terms of reference. Had I put into the public domain anything which indicated or implied the nature of the complaint against Sgt McCabe I would be rightly open to criticism.
At the heart of the issues to be examined by the Commission is whether senior Gardaí were involved in a campaign to use information to damage Sgt McCabe.
I agreed to take on board amendments designed to put beyond doubt that the examination of any smear campaign would not be confined.
Just as my colleague Minister Zappone is dealing with the serious matters relating to her area of responsibility, I am proceeding to finalise the terms of reference of the Commission of Investigation arising from Mr Justice O'Neill's report.