GEORGE WASHINGTON believed it was better to be alone than in bad company. But Maurice McCabe did not join An Garda Síochána to become a household name; to be shunned or side-lined was not part of his intended career path. There was dark irony in the fact he would become known as a ‘whistleblower’; the first police whistles were used in Birmingham in 1884. Officers carried them to summon help when under attack.
When Maurice McCabe blew his whistle, instead of summoning support, he found himself under sustained assault by those whose duty it was to protect him.
He became a target simply for being a conscientious member of the force doing his job.
They say if you have enough courage you can live without a reputation, but no one should have to.
Many would have been lost in the darkness into which Mr McCabe was plunged. Instead of recoiling, he kept going, despite a range of obstacles deliberately thrown in his path.
They were contrived not just to trip him up, but to drag him down.
The announcement that he has settled his legal action against the Garda Commissioner and Tusla for an undisclosed sum must be welcomed. It marks the end of a sorry saga which has left a stain on our State, and on the reputation of An Garda Síochána.
It was Judge Peter Charleton’s devastating report which revealed the true extent of the crisis within the force. There was shock as the report revealed a Garda commissioner would go out of his way to blacken the name of a sergeant.
Judge Charleton made it plain he believed then-commissioner Martin Callinan led a campaign of calumny against Mr McCabe.
The finding could neither be more damning nor more chilling.
Whatever settlement was made would not undo the suffering the former sergeant and his family endured.
Mr McCabe was driven to bring 11 separate actions against the State.
He was only singled out for raising his concerns about how a dozen investigations – involving mainly serious crimes – had been mishandled.
As Judge Charleton pointed out, he had rightly raised concerns about low standards, for which there were attempts to wrongly blame him.
He needs no further vindication. As the scandal grew, the stature of An Garda Síochána diminished, and that of Mr McCabe rose.
As the judge noted: “Maurice McCabe remains a public-spirited, decent and kind individual but one suffering from the effects of strain.”
He was failed disgracefully. And while fixing the culture of An Garda Síochána is still a work in progress, the State has taken a small step to correcting grave wrongs.
No recompense will right the harm done to Maurice McCabe. Making sure no other officer ever has to go through a similar ordeal is the only meaningful way to honour a truly remarkable servant of our State.