This week’s RTE Primetime two part documentary on the Sergeant Maurice McCabe saga made for difficult viewing. I for one was left with a profound sadness for the ordeal that he and his family have been forced to endure. The degree of collusion that went in to discrediting the man and threatened to destroy his career and his mental wellbeing is truly frightening. The shameful attempts to undermine his credibility and label him as an abuser of children beggars’ belief especially when perpetrated by those charged with enforcing and upholding the rule of law. Thankfully he is a well-grounded personality with enough inner resources to have withstood the storm. His wife also came across as a tower of strength and I’m sure her constant support and their strong marriage played a huge part in his survival.
What we witnessed was another institution closing ranks in a huge effort of self-preservation. We’ve already seen how the church behaved in that way on the issue of sexual abuse, and the banks didn’t exactly cover themselves in glory when financial skulduggery almost bankrupted our country and imposed hardships that we will carry for many years to come was uncovered. Whenever institutions close ranks and act out of self-interest it always leads to trouble.
Lessons need to be learned out of this whole affair. The Church has learned immeasurably from its mistakes and cover ups of the past, and it now has in place policies procedures and practices that lead the way in the whole area of child protection. The banks have had their purges and rigorous protocols now existing to prevent a recurrence of the misdeeds of the past.
The Gardaí now need to embark on a thorough review of their internal organisation and structures and create a culture within the force where whistle blowers are taken seriously and their concerns dealt with in an open and transparent way. The Gardaí have a long and honourable record of service to the nation and are hugely respected by the general population for their valour and bravery; this record is not negated by what has happened in the Maurice McCabe saga; but clearly a dark side of the culture of the institution has been exposed and needs to be dealt with decisively and without delay. As in the case of the scandals in the church the truth has to emerge fully and transparently and be dealt with in the cold light of day. “The truth will set you free.” John 8:32
As for Maurice McCabe I hope he is well compensated for what he has suffered, he came close to being destroyed as a human being, and that cries out for justice. He has done the nation a great service.
Fr. Philip Curran