Gay poet denies he's a 'stud preying on innocent youths'
Published 27/03/2008 | 00:00
CONTROVERSIAL gay poet Cathal O Searcaigh has challenged what he claims are media images of him as some sort of "stud" or "stallion" preying on innocent victims in Nepal.
Breaking his silence following the broadcasting of the documentary 'Fairytale of Kathmandu', an unrepentant Mr O Searcaigh likened himself to Oscar Wilde, whose high-profile homosexual lifestyle led to his imprisonment and exile.
Like Wilde, he too was going through a difficult time but he was optimistic it would pass.
"It gave me hope to think about Wilde who went through a tough time," the poet said.
"Wilde said we are all in the gutter but some of us are looking at stars," the poet added.
But the interview has done little to quell the mounting disquiet about Mr O Searcaigh's exploitation of poor and vulnerable teenagers.
Even his former PR adviser, Liam Gaskin, dismissed his comparisons with Oscar Wilde.
Mr Gaskin told Newstalk that Mr O Searcaigh had "a Judas complex" and he would have advised him against doing the interview.
"If I was to refer to myself as Oscar Wilde, I would be laughed at, but from Cathal's viewpoint he's a Gaelgeoir, he's a poet and he's a homosexual so he's fairly marginalised -- but Oscar Wilde, it's a bit far-fetched," he said.
Donegal Fine Gael councillor Terrence Slowey called on Mr O Searcaigh to face up to what he had done.
"These boys were very innocent and were not consenting adults. If he apologised for his actions, then we could move on from there," he said, adding that the silence from some of the establishment in Donegal on the matter had been "deafening" and was unhealthy.
Galway-based writer Fred Johnston, who accused O Searcaigh of exploiting his power in Nepal, called on artistic collective Aosdana to break its silence and make a statement "deploring power exploitation and sexual exploitation".
And Aosdana member Mannix Flynn labelled the poet a predator and accused him of breaching clear guidelines for working with vulnerable disadvantaged youths.
"He has been given every opportunity to come out and ask for our forgiveness and admit what he was doing was wrong," he said.
Declaring himself the exploited one, 52-year-old Mr O Searcaigh claimed that the documentary had changed his life utterly, but he denied any wrongdoing committed by him with the teenage boys he had befriended.
"You would think from the papers I was a stud with the terrible stories and rumours that are being levelled against me," he said.
Speaking in Irish to Aine Ni Churrain on Raidio na Gaeltachta, he said that his portrayal in the documentary had been one-sided.
"I'm being portrayed as someone devilish and that I'm no good. I don't think I'm that kind of person," he said.
The defiant poet said that when he was confronted by the filmmaker Neasa Ni Chiannain on his return to Ireland at the end of the film, and admitted having sex with some of the teenage boys he was financially aiding, he was extremely tired and jetlagged.
"I didn't have time to think. I shouldn't have said what I said but I wasn't thinking straight," he said.
He insisted his relationships with the teens were more about hugging and friendship.
"My hotel room is like my home in Nepal. My door is open. They were coming as my friends. It had nothing to do with sex. I didn't sexually attack them. I can't be seen as a sexual tourist," he claimed.
Mr O Searcaigh, who has been visiting Nepal for over a decade, insisted there were bank records to prove that three quarters of his own earnings went to Nepal, even when he was back home in Ireland.
When questioned whether he considered seeking help or sex therapy, he replied that it was for paedophiles and he understood he was not that.
The poet said he had not been surprised at the debate over whether his work should be removed from the Leaving Certificate curriculum.
"When it comes to sex, all reason is lost. It surprises me how people took this and the thoughts they have about the whole thing. I thought that went out in the middle ages that such a thing would surprise them so much," he said.