I think it's in the best interest of my family to retire from policing – Maurice McCabe

GARDA whistleblower Maurice McCabe has said he decided to retire from An Garda Siochana because it was “in the best interests” of his family.

Speaking to Independent.ie hours before he officially retires, Sgt McCabe praised recently appointed Garda Commissioner Drew Harris but said now is the right time to step down.

“I am happy with the findings of the Charleton Tribunal but I think it is in the best interest of my family to retire from policing,” Sgt McCabe said.

After 30 years of serving as a garda, Sgt McCabe plans to spend time with his family as he prepares for life outside the force.

“For the last few years I’ve been snowed under with paper work from the tribunals and other investigations. I’m going to take a month or two off now and spend it with the family,” he said.

Since the publication of Justice Peter Charleton’s report Sgt McCabe has met personally with Commissioner Harris and the two discussed the future of policing in this country.

“We had fantastic meeting with the Commissioner,” Sgt McCabe said.

“He came to the house for an hour and half. He outlined his plans for policing and I believe he wants to change the gardai for the better,” he added.

The whistleblower, who uncovered widespread malpractice in the penalty point system, only told his wife Lorraine and their five children he planned to retire today at midnight.

The rest of their family and friends were not told of the decision which will bring to an end a dark chapter in Irish policing.

Garda Assistant Commissioner Fintan Fanning came to the McCabe’s family home last night to complete the retirement process with the country’s most well-known whistleblower.

Today is Sgt McCabe’s last day as a police officer and he will wake up tomorrow morning as an ordinary citizen. But he will always be remembered as a garda who spent more than a decade seeking to raise awareness of garda malpractice.

His long-running battle to expose allegations of negligence in the force led to the resignation of two Garda Commissioners, Martin Callinan and Noirin O’Sullivan, and two Justice Ministers, Alan Shatter and Frances Fitzgerald.

He endured years of public inquiries which all found he was a diligent member of An Garda Siochana who was seeking to raise matters of genuine concern.

The Charleton Tribunal found former Commissioner Callinan, along with Garda Press Officer David Taylor orchestrated a smear campaign against Sgt McCabe in order to damage his reputation while he was raising concerns about malpractice.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan  praised Sgt McCabe’s “persistence, courage and great sense of duty” when he was taking on the upper ranks of the force.

Speaking on RTE Radio One, Mr Flanagan acknowledged the whistleblower went through a “difficult time” but said he had always “distinguished himself”.

He said Sgt McCabe’s legacy will be that his actions “will accelerate” change in An Garda Siochana.

Sgt McCabe officially handed in his retirement notice to Assistant Garda Commissioner Fintan Fanning over the weekend.

His solicitor Sean Costello told RTE Radio One on Wednesday that Sgt McCabe had reached the decision after “an awful lot of consideration”.

Mr Costello said: “It is sad in many ways because obviously this is the job that he loved. He would have kept going but the impact of everything that has happened… he wasn’t able to go back. He couldn’t go back to being a member of An Garda Siochana.”

The Disclosures Tribunal investigated allegations that Garda chiefs orchestrated a smear campaign, including false sex abuse claims, against Sgt McCabe – a scandal that almost brought down Ireland’s fragile minority government last year.

The report found Sgt McCabe was a “genuine person” who at all times had “the interests of the people of Ireland uppermost in his mind”.

It found he regarded those interests as “superior to any loyalty” to the police force of the state.

Sgt McCabe accused the force of malpractice, including the quashing of penalty points, and later made a complaint against Mr Callinan.

He joined the Garda in 1985 and had more than 30 years of service. He had been on leave from the service since May 2016.

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