The Irish Government has announced there is to be an inquiry into allegations that senior members of the gardaí (Ireland’s police force) smeared a colleague.
Sergeant Maurice McCabe was a falsely labelled a pedophile after he reported a number of high profile colleagues for wiping driving penalty points in return for favors. Journalists were briefed of the allegations by colleagues, all of which lead to highly slanted coverage of the penalty points scandal.
Speaking in Dáil Éireann (Parliament) earlier today, Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kennysaid that a full public tribunal would deal with the allegation and that, "the entire country has sympathy for Sgt. McCabe and his family".
In response to questioning from opposition legislators he added, "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?'."
With all the scandal and intrigue of a House of Cards episode, the incident has the potential to bring about a General Election with a motion of no confidence in the Irish Government’s handling of the matter due to be debated in Parliament this week.
For now the Government looks set to survive; it lacks a majority but is propped up by the largest opposition party, Fianna Fáil, who have pledged to abstain.
Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone is also mixed up in the controversy after meeting with the McCabe family last month; she told the media she had discussed the case and allegations with the Taoiseach subsequently - something Kenny denied on RTÉ radio this week.
"What did Katherine Zappone tell you, and what did her officials tell your officials?" the Taoiseach is asked. pic.twitter.com/6qCZDyUSMU— RTÉ News (@rtenews) February 12, 2017
And it isn’t only the careers of Government ministers on the line; McCabe’s allegations pertain to the highest levels of Ireland’s police force.
In 2014 Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan told a committee chairman that McCabe was “was not to be trusted and there were serious issues about him”, just days prior to McCabe’s testimony to the committee on the matter. He had previously called garda whistleblowers “disgusting”.
Callinan retired shortly afterwards as Ireland’s top cop for “family reasons” and was replaced by Noirín O’Sullivan.
Now O’Sullivan herself is implicated in the scandal after it emerged that she attacked McCabe’s actions, insisting that he was motivated by “malice”.
Labor party Leader Brendan Howlin told the Dáil last week he’d been contacted by a journalist who said O’Sullivan had contacted them in 2013 and 2014 in which she had made allegations that McCabe had committed crimes of a sexual nature.
Rejecting calls to step down, O’Sullivan insisted, “A campaign of false accusations, repeated and multiplied, do not make me guilty of anything.”
Bit sickening having Noirin O'Sullivan giving out about a campaign of "false accusations". #MauriceMcCabe— Paul Murphy (@paulmurphyAAA) February 13, 2017
If she does resign she won’t be the first individual involved in law enforcement to step down; Justice Minister Alan Shatter resigned in 2014 after wrongly repeating allegations against McCabe and went on to lose his seat in last year’s General Election.
And it yet could bring down Ireland’s entire Government.