First, I compliment Mr. Justice Charleton on the efficient way in which he dealt with the tribunal and on the clear report he submitted afterwards. He was unambiguous in his comments on the various issues raised. He has shown the Government and the State how a tribunal can be run efficiently and over a short time. I also acknowledge Sergeant Maurice McCabe's role in the tribunal and its outcome. I am satisfied that the tribunal heard his version of events, and the tribunal was clear in its acknowledgement that he was vindicated in everything he did and said.
As for the Government and the apology to Sergeant McCabe, it was the most blatant, brazen piece of hypocrisy I have seen in a long time. Sergeant McCabe was telling his story for 12 years, describing what was happening and highlighting issues in the force, yet the Government stood idly by and did nothing. In fact, the time for the apology and intervention was when the current Taoiseach, Deputy Varadkar, said as a Minister that Maurice McCabe's actions were distinguished, not disgusting. However, the Government sat on its hands and watched as that family was put through torture during those years.
The Minister for Justice and Equality continues to preside over a Department that appears to be dysfunctional. I have seen no evidence of the reform that was promised. There are many examples of that, such as the current hearings of the Committee of Public Accounts with prison officers, including Noel McGree. To say that the replies to all the questions I have asked in this House were economical with the truth and misleading in their content is an understatement. The Department feels it is okay to stand over that. Now that the Minister has been converted to examining the actions of the Department and is showing a willingness to say when he is wrong, will he tell John Wilson, Noel McGree and the two female whistleblowers I am aware of that he was wrong? Will he intervene now and tell them he is sorry for what the State has done to them? Will he give them a chance to get their lives back on track, as he should? I doubt it, because he does not have the backbone to do it. That is the sorry aspect of what is happening.
The tribunal came and went and left its report behind. The Minister appears to think that the dogs will bark and the caravans will move on. However, the country has taken a turn. There is a demand now for truth and justice from all of us who serve, but the people are not getting truth and justice from the Department; they are getting anything but that. The Government has to be dragged, kicking and screaming, to court or through tribunals before it will acknowledge what is happening to individuals in the employment of the State. I have given the Minister the examples and I have asked him to intervene. Perhaps he will tell us what he intends to do about it.
A motion was passed by the House relating to the investigation of the death of Shane O'Farrell. The Government has taken no action to implement the desire of the Opposition to have that matter investigated. It lets Shane's mother, Lucia, his father and sisters wallow in the sorrow of losing him and will not intervene. The Government fails to understand the devastation it has visited on their lives by not recognising them. Ultimately, the motion was passed in the House but nothing was done about it. If the confidence and supply arrangement meant anything it should make a difference in people's lives. Under that arrangement Fianna Fáil should step up to the plate and tell the Government to act on the motion or else. That is what we are coming to because the State and the Government are presiding over the beating up of our citizens by Departments.
Similar to the actions of Sergeant Maurice McCabe, other State employees have come forward and given disclosures. To say they have been treated badly is, again, an understatement. Their lives have been ruined. In some cases they are professionals and their careers have been ruined. There are other cases, such as Douglas Fannin and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. The Department has not dealt with it. It just continues to ignore it and to pull people through the courts. Last week, the Department of Defence went to the High Court. The Department was totally wrong and had given incorrect and inaccurate replies to parliamentary questions.
In the Morrissey v State case the Department of Defence lost. Thankfully that young man is now taking his place in the Cadet School.
I have just highlighted a few cases but I shall also speak about one other case where, again, the House set up an investigation and to this day we do not know what is happening. I refer to the Grace case. Individuals who were mentally and physically challenged and non-verbal were abused while in the care of the State. The State is sitting on its hands rather than dealing efficiently and factually with the cases of Grace and the 47 other individuals. What more do we have to do in this House in the context of debating the issues, of highlighting the issues and of getting action from a Government that quite frankly does not seem to care? The only reason the Minister apologised is because he was flushed out and the matter came out into the open. The State could not beat Maurice McCabe but there are many others out there who the Government seems prepared to beat. The Government is currently dealing with the case of John Barrett. I wonder why that is coming about and what is going to happen.
When individual citizens raise issues in this State, the Government's answer is to bring the house down around the person, to push him or her to the pin of the collar and to break careers, families and health. There is no response from the Government and no showing of humanity or compassion. There is no attempt to bring in the necessary reforms to stop all of this from happening again and again. People turn to this House for direction and leadership. They turn to this House for protection. They believe they are doing the right thing. If one was to ask Maurice McCabe I would say he is doubtful whether he would do it all over again. He has, however, done an enormous service to the State and he is to be commended on what he did. He should be protected for what he did. The others should also be protected for what they did. I have given the names to the Minister, and I have often mentioned them in public. Out of all of those cases and from the motion that was passed, I believe the Shane O'Farrell case is one that clearly demonstrates to people that the State and the Government have no interest unless they are pushed to the point where action has to happen. By that point, the families are generally broken.
The Minister, Deputy Flanagan, and his Government, have an awful lot to answer for. The political system in this House has an awful lot to answer for. The confidence and supply arrangement has a lot to answer for because it does not demand transparency and accountability. Where it sees the need for accountability, such as the motion on the Shane O'Farrell case, it is not prepared to do anything else. That is just an exercise in voicing an opinion about things rather than an exercise to put in place fair play, justice and an acknowledgment that the State should not beat up families or ignore them. The State should do the opposite; it should show compassion, humanity and an attempt to deal with the reality of the lives of the people who are being destroyed by the inaction of the State.