Charity stands by McGrath after road ban
A CHARITY for cystic fibrosis sufferers and their families has vowed to "stand by their man" after Paul McGrath's three-year drink-driving ban.
The Republic of Ireland hero, who is battling alcoholism, pleaded guilty to assaulting a man before taking his car and driving drunk without insurance in an incident in Co Wexford last April.
Yesterday, the chief executive of the Cystic Fibrosis Association of Ireland (CFAI), Philip Watt, praised the soccer legend, calling him "an absolute star in our eyes".
McGrath is a patron of the CFAI and has been involved in a major fundraising campaign for the charity.
"We know about the challenges in Paul's life," said Mr Watt, "But we are thankful to him for all the support he has given to us as the main patron for cystic fibrosis for the past year."
The charity boss described the retired footballer as an "extremely modest man" and a "caring person". And he said he was writing a letter to McGrath to offer him support.
He added: "The impression I get is that he hasn't sought any recognition for the charity work he's done."
Mr Watt said the drink-driving conviction did not matter when it came to McGrath's commitment to children with cystic fibrosis.
The 50-year-old, who documented his personal struggles in his candid book 'Back from the Brink', now lives in Monageer, Co Wexford.
He pleaded guilty at Enniscorthy District Court this week to assaulting Noel Pepper and to the unauthorised taking of Mr Pepper's car, drink driving and driving without insurance.
The court heard McGrath was apologetic for his crime and was seeking help for his drink problems.
McGrath was banned from driving for three years and fined a total of €2,100.
The retired footballer, who played in two World Cup finals, is "glad it's all over", his agent said last night.
CFAI also highlighted how the former Man United and Aston Villa defender raised €40,000 for the charity in July.
"The people who we work with have strong personal feelings and they feel empathy for Paul. He had a very difficult upbringing. We're standing by our man," added Mr Watt.