Coun­sel: Sex claim was bid to em­bar­rass Mc­Cabe

Daniel McCon­nell and Ger­ard Cun­ning­ham

Irish Examiner - - Front Page - Joyce Fe­gan and Daniel McCon­nell

Em­bar­rass­ing Mau­rice Mc­Cabe was the sole rea­son why an his­toric sex abuse al­le­ga­tion made against him was in­tro­duced at the O’Hig­gins Com­mis­sion, the Charleton tri­bunal has been told.

The false al­le­ga­tion, which the DPP re­jected, was “dragged back in a col­lat­eral way to em­bar­rass him [Mc­Cabe]”, his lawyer Michael McDow­ell said, adding there was a de­lib­er­ate at­tempt to un­der­mine Sgt Mc­Cabe at the O’Hig­gins Com­mis­sion.

“His motivation, his cred­i­bil­ity, and from time to time, his in­tegrity, was stated to be an is­sue,” Mr McDow­ell said.

This was done “to make it ap­pear that none of his com­plaints were gen­uine but they were all con­cocted with a view to get­ting back at An Garda Síochána”.

It emerged that for­mer Garda com­mis­sioner Nóirín O’Sul­li­van drafted a re­sponse for the then-tá­naiste, Frances Fitzger­ald, to de­liver in the Dáil to deal with the fall­out from the con­tro­versy that emerged af­ter the O’Hig­gins Com­mis­sion re­port was pub­lished.

How­ever, Ms Fitzger­ald did not de­liver the sug­gested re­sponse and took a dif­fer­ent view.

The tri­bunal was shown three emails sent by Ms O’Sul­li­van to Ms Fitzger­ald on May 18, 2016. Ms O’Sul­li­van sug­gested that Ms Fitzger­ald could tell the Dáil that at no point did the Garda com­mis­sioner in­struct her le­gal team to ac­cuse Sgt Mc­Cabe of mal­ice.

Ms O’Sul­li­van also sug­gested the min­is­ter could say she had full con­fi­dence in the com­mis­sioner.

The tri­bunal also heard that Ms O’Sul­li­van phoned the then-act­ing sec­re­tary gen­eral of the Depart­ment of Jus­tice, Noel Wa­ters, on May 15, 2015, dur­ing the first day of hear­ings of the O’Hig­gins Com­mis­sion.

Mr Wa­ters was phoned dur­ing a row at the com­mis­sion over the treat­ment of Sgt Mc­Cabe.

Ms O’Sul­li­van’s le­gal team had been asked by the com­mis­sion to con­firm that their in­struc­tions were to at­tack Sgt Mc­Cabe’s motivation. Her lawyers did con­firm that the team’s in­struc­tions were to ques­tion the mo­tives of Sgt Mc­Cabe.

A 90-year-old wo­man spent seven hours on a hos­pi­tal trol­ley in Gal­way.

She was left on a trol­ley in the emer­gency depart­ment (ED) at Por­tiun­cula Hos­pi­tal, in Bal­li­nasloe, fol­low­ing an X-ray for a mi­nor frac­ture, ac­cord­ing to her son. This was at Christ­mas.

“She was quite dis­tressed and anx­ious. Her blood pres­sure kept go­ing up. When you’re 90, the ED is not the nicest of places to be,” her son told the Ir­ish Ex­am­iner.

His mother had at­tended the hos­pi­tal for a sched­uled X-ray and when a mi­nor frac­ture showed up in the scan, she was re­ferred back to the ED, where she then waited on a trol­ley, for seven hours, to be seen and dis­charged.

“Go­ing through the ED was the only route. Ideally, there should be another route. She was with another rel­a­tive and then I heard she was in ED and came up from Dublin,” he said.

The wo­man’s son said politi­cians are not tak­ing the hos­pi­tal trol­ley cri­sis se­ri­ously.

Ye s t e r d a y , t h e I r i s h Nurses’ and Mid­wives’ Or­gan­i­sa­tion (INMO) recorded 473 peo­ple wait­ing on hos­pi­tal trol­leys around Ire­land. This fig­ure did not in­clude St Vin­cent’s Hos­pi­tal, in Dublin. The high­est num­ber (48) was recorded in Univer­sity Hos­pi­tal Lim­er­ick; fol­lowed by Cork Univer­sity Hos­pi­tal, 34; and, then, Univer­sity Hos­pi­tal Gal­way, where 30 pa­tients waited on trol­leys.

“My ad­vice to peo­ple is to com­plain and make noise. They have been talk­ing about fix­ing this cri­sis for years and I see no so­lu­tion in sight. I feel peo­ple are at their most vul­ner­a­ble when they are sick and also when you’re least likely to stand up for your­self,” he said.

Mean­while, Health Min­is­ter Si­mon Har­ris has con­curred that 500 ad­di­tional beds are needed in hos­pi­tals to avoid a re­peat of the win­ter flu cri­sis cur­rently grip­ping the health ser­vice.

While mem­bers of the Independent Al­liance broke ranks yes­ter­day to de­mand the ex­tra beds, Mr Har­ris, too, has made it known that an in­crease in bed ca­pac­ity in 2018 is ur­gently re­quired.

While it has been stated that as many as 2,500 beds will be needed in the sys­tem in the next 10 years, Mr Har­ris has in­sisted money be found to de­liver the ad­di­tional beds.

The cap­i­tal cost of pro­vid­ing a new, acute hos­pi­tal bed was es­ti­mated at €325,000 last year. Beds in mod­u­lar units or in hos­pi­tals with spare ca­pac­ity would be more af­ford­able.

The Depart­ment of Health is study­ing which hos­pi­tals can take ex­tra beds in ex­ist­ing or mod­u­lar build­ings this year, and that bed ca­pac­ity re­view is to go to Cabi­net in nine days’ time.

At Cabi­net, Mr Har­ris won what was seen as a “ma­jor vic­tory”, in get­ting Cabi­net agree­ment on the course of ac­tions for the year ahead. He won ap­proval to move for­ward on the new GP con­tract, de­liver the re­forms out­lined in the Slain­te­care re­port, and de­liver re­forms to get trol­ley num­bers un­der con­trol.

Mr Har­ris also, yes­ter­day, re­ferred the Pa­tient Safety Li­cenc­ing Bill to an Oireach­tas com­mit­tee for scru­tiny.

“Another im­por­tant step for this ma­jor leg­is­la­tion that is much-needed,” he said.

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