Thursday 18 December 2014

Boys were 'damaged' by sex trysts with poet

Gardai to be given report alleging trauma inflicted on Nepalese teens

Published 10/02/2008 | 00:00

GARDAI are to be given a report outlining the alleged trauma inflicted on teenage Nepalese boys who slept with the poet Cathal O Searcaigh.

The report claims that the boys were seriously damaged as a result of their sexual encounters with the celebrated Irish language poet.

It was prepared by Krishna Thapa, a trained counsellor and director of an organisation working with Nepalese street children.

It emerged this weekend that the investigation has been under way for more than a year.

According to Mr Thapa, no formal complaints have been made against Mr O Searcaigh. He indicated that the Nepalese authorities won't act "without somebody complains against him."

The inquiry is focusing on whether the poet committed an offence by sleeping with boys in Nepal who would be considered under-age in Ireland, as claimed in a documentary, Fairytale of Kathmandu.

The Health Services Executive first called in the gardai in 2006 after Neasa Ni Chianain, the film's director, raised concerns about Mr O Searcaigh with a counselling organisation in Donegal.

Ms Ni Chianain gave a statement to detectives in 2006. It is believed that detectives have also spoken to Mr O Searcaigh.

The director had intended Fairytale of Kathmandu to be an ode to the poet, as he distributed €50,000 he raised in Ireland to people in Nepal.

She ended up challenging him about his relationship with the boys, some of whom were reportedly as young as 16.

In the film, Mr O Searcaigh admits, "I certainly had sex with some of them, yes, yes, yes. But I wasn't coercing them into having sex".

The Garda inquiry is focusing on the Sexual Offences Act, which allows an Irish person who breaks Irish consent laws abroad to be prosecuted in Ireland. While the age of consent in Nepal is 16, it is 17 in Ireland.

Mr O Searcaigh has been advised against giving interviews.

A spokesman for the poet said last week that he categorically did not sleep with boys who he was supporting financially.

Mr O Searcaigh was said last week by friends to be devastated at the damaging claims against him.

The poet has in been in receipt of numerous state grants, the most valuable of which is probably the €258,000 project to extend his cottage at the foot of the Errigal mountains in Donegal.

Mr O Searcaigh donated his papers to Donegal County Council and, in return, can live in the cottage rent free for the rest of his life.

The cottage is also being extended for use as an artist's retreat. The project -- called Teach O Searcaigh -- is jointly funded by the Arts Council, Udaras na Gaeltachta and the local authority.

Other grants include a €2,000 from Foras na Gaeilge in the past three years and a €15,000 grant to his publisher to fund two books of poetry. The poet raised €50,000 for his Nepal charity by auctioning art works donated by friends such as Pauline Bewick and Seamus Heaney.

Mr O Searcaigh told the film-makers that his charity is not formally registered, which means he cannot avail of charitable tax exemptions.

Mr O Searcaigh avails of the artist's tax exemption.

Analysis Page 15 & Living section

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