Tuesday 6 December 2016

GAA coach seeks to quash finding he's a risk to children

Aodhan O'Faolain

Published 08/12/2015 | 02:30

A GAA coach is seeking to quash a finding by the Child and Family Agency that he represents a risk to children, the High Court has heard. Stock Picture
A GAA coach is seeking to quash a finding by the Child and Family Agency that he represents a risk to children, the High Court has heard. Stock Picture

A GAA coach is seeking to quash a finding by the Child and Family Agency (CFA) that he represents a risk to children, the High Court has heard.

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The man, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, has brought a challenge against the finding made against him two years ago.

It followed an investigation, conducted on behalf of the CFA, into an allegation he sexually abused a girl when she was aged between six and 16.

He agreed before the court to cease coaching pending determination of his challenge after Mr Justice Richard Humphreys remarked that it was "a bit odd" the man remained coaching youngsters after the CFA's finding in 2013.

Yesterday, Damien Colgan SC, for the man, said his client, who denies the allegations, is "entitled to a presumption of innocence" pending the outcome of his appeal.

Mr Colgan said a woman who now lived abroad made a statement to the gardaí alleging that between 1979 and 1989 she was sexually assaulted by the man. No prosecution was brought arising out of that complaint, counsel said.

Mr Colgan said the matter had been investigated by a social worker. In 2013, the CFA found he was a risk to children and that third parties should be informed of this.

The man lodged an appeal against that finding shortly after it was made.

No other complaint of this nature has ever been made about him, it was claimed.

That appeal has not been heard for various reasons.

Mr Colgan said his client wanted the matter dealt with as soon as possible.

He maintained that the investigation conducted on behalf of the CFA, and the process involved in the probe, was fundamentally flawed.

The finding against the man was based on a redacted statement the complainant made to the gardaí, Mr Colgan said.

Full and proper disclosure had not been made to his client by the CFA, something the CFA was also obliged to do as part of the investigation process.

An application to bring the challenge was made, on an ex-parte (one-side only represented) basis.

Mr Justice Humphreys said he would not decide whether to give permission to bring the challenge until he heard from the CFA. He adjourned the matter to later this month.

Irish Independent

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