The Disclosures Tribunal has heard that there was a hugely divisive atmosphere in Bailieborough and a blame game between local management and Sergeant Maurice McCabe.

Inspector Pat O'Connell was giving evidence today. He was assigned to the Cavan Monaghan division from 2007-2014.

Insp O'Connell said it was hugely divisive in Bailieborough. He said accusations were made and there was a blame game between local management and Sgt McCabe. 

He said it escalated and nobody knew where it would end and there was a reluctance to get involved and approach Sgt McCabe.

Mr Justice Peter Charleton said the entire organisation was under scrutiny from outside and everybody was made look bad. 

Mr Justice Charleton said one person was rocking the boat so much that water was coming in.

Insp O'Connell said there was a divide and people were not happy that the scrutiny was causing so much negativity on the organisation.

He said there was a split in Bailieborough station in particular.  He added that Sgt McCabe was on one side holding a key position of Sergeant in Charge and on the other was an allegation in relation to a members's daughter. 

He said it was very hard to establish who was on what side, adding that the negative feeling in Bailieborough was a legacy of that.

He was also asked why nobody told Sgt McCabe about the false allegation. He said there was a fear that if you contacted Sgt McCabe you might end up embroiled in something you did not want to end up caught up in

Also today, the Chairman of the Tribunal said that it was odd and weird that a chief superintendent referred upwards a false allegation made against Sgt McCabe without saying that he knew it was incorrect.

In May 2014, Chief Superintendent James Sheridan sent on the false allegation received from Tusla, to his superior, Assistant Commissioner Kieran Kenny. 

Chief Supt Sheridan has told the inquiry that although he knew at that point that the allegation was false, he did not include that information in his letter to Mr Kenny on 14 May 2014.

Mr Justice Charleton said it was odd and weird that CS Sheridan had not revealed his knowledge in the letter.

Insp O'Connell was the divisional clerk in Monaghan when the incorrect Garda notification was received from Tusla and he dealt with some of Chief Supt Sheridan's correspondence.

He said that when the allegation came in, he was very taken aback as it was very serious.  He did not believe it could be true from his dealings with Sgt McCabe.

He said his general conversation with Chief Supt Sheridan was that this must be a mistake, it must be wrong and he said Chief Supt Sheridan also said that it must be wrong.

SC Michael McDowell, for Sgt McCabe, said the 14 May letter would have conveyed that a rape allegation was made and investigated, and had also been sent to Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Fianna Fáil leader Michael Martin.

Insp O'Connell agreed that the letter would have conveyed that and that it did not reflect that the referral was erroneous. 

He said he did not know why Chief Supt Sheridan did not refer to the fact that the allegation was wrong.

Under questioning from his barrister, Desmond Dockery, Insp O'Connell said he understood where Sgt McCabe was coming from in relation to concerns about Garda malpractice in Cavan Monaghan. 

Insp O'Connell said Sgt McCabe was interested in standards in investigations and he said there were issues.

Tusla executive says he learned of allegation this year

A senior Tusla executive told the tribunal that he only found out about the false allegation made against Sgt McCabe in January this year and he should have been told sooner.

Chief operating officer Jim Gibson said he was disappointed that their governance and oversight had not escalated the problem earlier to a national level.

The false allegation was passed to Tusla in August 2013. 

Further mistakes were made by the agency and it eventually wrote to Sgt McCabe notifying him of the accusation in late December 2016.

Mr McDowell said there was a determined effort to keep the national office in the dark and he said that was disgraceful.  

Mr Gibson said he only became aware of what happened on 25 January 2017 during a meeting with Minister for Children Katherine Zappone, Sgt McCabe and his wife.

He then issued a chronology to the Department and acknowledged his intention to apologise as a state agency.

He said there were serious, systemic failures and he is currently finalising a review of what went wrong in the agency.

Mr McDowell suggested there had been a deliberate cover-up. 

Mr Gibson rejected that, although he said the matter should have been escalated sooner and there should have been discussion with the gardaí. He said there was poor decision making. 

He rejected any suggestion of improper garda interference in the agency's handling of the Sgt McCabe file.

Mr Gibson also said he would initiate an internal investigation into a suggestion that the Sgt McCabe file had been "filleted" before it was sent to an internal review.