Tuesday 20 November 2018

Former GAA county board boss supports sex offender at sentencing

Backing: Former Garda and Clare GAA official Michael McDonagh
Backing: Former Garda and Clare GAA official Michael McDonagh

Gordon Deegan

A high-profile GAA figure has appeared as a character witness for a sex offender at a sentencing hearing.

Former chairman of the Clare County GAA board and former Fianna Fáil general election candidate, Michael 'Malty' McDonagh appeared in the witness box at Ennis Circuit Court yesterday to give character evidence of behalf of Peter Power (55).

Mr McDonagh is also a retired Detective Garda who was based at Kilrush Garda Station in west Clare during his career with the force.

Power had been convicted by a jury of indecent assault of a nine-year-old girl in 1985 when Mr Power was aged 21.

The victim made a complaint about the incident in 2012.

Raised in Caherrush, Quilty, west Clare, Power is a father of two grown-up children and in sworn evidence at the sentencing hearing, Mr McDonagh said he has known Mr Power all his life.

"Peter is excellent with his son and daughter and he is excellent with his former wife and he has three lovely grandchildren as well," Mr McDonagh said.

He also stated that Power "ran a local bus company in my area for 10 years where he took care of a lot of people going home late at night and made sure they got home safely and often did not charge people".

Asked if Mr Power dealt with young people, Mr McDonagh replied: "He would have...yes. He...played football as well."

Mr McDonagh walked past the complainant in the case as he left the courtroom after giving evidence.

Mr McDonagh served two stints as chairman of the Clare County Board between 2003-7 and 2012-15.

The Miltown Malbay man missed out on a seat in the 2016 general election after receiving 8.29pc of vote, with 4,726 first preference votes.

When asked to explain why he provided character evidence on behalf of Mr Power after the sentencing hearing, Mr McDonagh said he gave evidence following a request from Mr Power's family.

"I appeared because the family wanted their thoughts presented to the court and they were too traumatised to give evidence," he said.

In the case, counsel for the State Lorcan Connolly said that the indecent assault took place in January 1985 when Mr Power was baby-sitting the girl and her siblings.

Mr Connolly said that the girl went upstairs and saw Mr Power sitting on a toilet with his pants down.

The complainant said that Mr Power asked her to take her underwear down and sit on his lap.

She did so and said that he touched her private parts with his hands and told her "What I do to you, you have to do to me".

Mr Connolly told the court that there had been no expression of remorse from Mr Power or an acknowledgement of the unanimous verdict of the jury.

Irish Independent

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