After days of political turmoil, a decision to settle an issue of major public concern was finally made this afternoon. 

A tribunal of inquiry, to sit in public, will be held to determine whether there was a smear campaign against Sergeant Maurice McCabe, orchestrated by high level gardaí. 

The decision came after a series of talks today including a meeting of the Cabinet, and before that, a separate meeting between the Fíanna Fáil leader Micheál Martin and Taoiseach Enda Kenny. 

Mr Martin told the Dáil during Leaders' Questions that he was informed last night that the McCabe family would not participate in a behind-closed-doors inquiry.

Mr Martin said he met Sgt McCabe at his home last night, where he was shown the Tusla file in which a false allegation of sexual abuse against Mr McCabe was made. 

"It is shocking what he and his family have been put through" Mr Martin told the Dáil.

"I read through the Tusla file in his home."

"The lethal aspect of it was that it was used to fundamentally undermine the credibility and integrity of Maurice McCabe" he said.

He added "the McCabe's made it clear that they will never go through a commission of investigation again." 

In response the Taoiseach said "the entire country has sympathy for Sgt McCabe and his family." 

"What is required here is an effective process to deal with the central issue, which is: was there a deliberate smear campaign against Maurice McCabe by senior gardaí?" 

"I can confirm that we have agreed in principle that we are to set up a tribunal of inquiry under the 1921 act." He said.

He said the inquiry would have to be set up without bias to any one party or the other.

Inaccurate information

Mr Kenny also admitted that he had provided inaccurate information in relation to his dealings with Katherine Zappone.

He said he never spoke to her directly, prior to her meeting with the McCabes, but that their offices were in contact.

"And I might say 'mea culpa' here, because I did say, and I'm guilty here of not giving accurate information". 

"I understood, from thinking myself, that she had asked me about meeting Sgt McCabe in the first place."

"It actually was her office that consulted with my officials who told me." 

"She is very clear that she did not tell me that she intended to meet Sgt McCabe, she did tell her official to tell my office, so I regret that." 

"She didn't tell me herself", he said.

He added "She did tell me before the Cabinet meeting last Tuesday that she had met with him and that they had discussed allegations that were false that had been given to Tusla."

But later in response to a question from Paul Murphy of the Anti-Austerity Alliance/People Before Profit, Mr Kenny appeared to give a different account of his dealings with Minister Zappone prior to the Cabinet meeting last Tuesday.

"The Minister did not refer to any of the details of the discussion with the McCabes or the existence of a file in Tusla, or the information contained in that file". 

"It is not true to say that I had any information about the existence of that prior to the Cabinet meeting in Government Buildings here". 

Smeared, bullied and maligned

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams told the Dáil that garda whistleblowers were smeared, bullied and maligned and suffered eight years of public defamation and vilification.

In response to Mr Adams, the Taoiseach said he was "an absolute hypocrite after what [he] said and did to former senator Máiría Cahill".

Mr Adams accused Mr Kenny of playing politics with "a sensitive and personal issue."

Superintendent Dave Taylor
Indepedendents4Change TD Mick Wallace gave the Dáil details of what he said were text and phone contacts between the former Garda Press Officer Dave Taylor and former commissioner Martin Callinan and Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan regarding Maurice McCabe. 

Mr Wallace said that a journalist had contacted the press officer, David Taylor, in 2014 to tell him that he had spoken to the family of the girl at the centre of the allegations and told him that the story would be 'really damaging to McCabe'. 

Mr Wallace says that Supt Taylor then texted both Martin Callinan and Nóirín O'Sullivan to tell them, and that Mr Callinan texted back welcoming this. 

He said Commissioner O'Sullivan called Supt Taylor to "have a good chat" about it. 

He quoted Supt Taylor as saying "that everyone in headquarters knew about the campaign against Maurice McCabe."

The Taoiseach said Mr Wallace is concluding the outcome of a tribunal of inquiry before it takes place. 

He said the Government has agreed in principle to set up a tribunal and he hopes that the terms of reference can be accepted by the Dáil. 

Mr Wallace said that everyone says the Garda Commissioner is innocent until proven guilty but he said she should be removed from her position.

When Maurice McCabe first raised issues of wrongdoing in 2008, he was trying to change the culture in Garda Síochána. 

He said we are now in 2017 and the culture has sadly not changed. 

He asked the Taoiseach to get rid of the Commissioner and the hierarchy and start afresh and get a new hierarchy from members of the force, lower down, who were unable to get promotion because they were clean.