Saturday 16 December 2017

GAA coach seeks to quash finding by the Child and Family Agency that he represents a risk to children, High Court hears

In 2013, the CFA found he was a risk to children and that third parties should be informed of this.
In 2013, the CFA found he was a risk to children and that third parties should be informed of this.

Aodhan O'Faolain

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 heard.

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 6 and 16 years old.

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.

Today, 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.

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

Counsel said the matter was 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 have ever been made about him, it was claimed.

That appeal has not been heard for various reasons.

Counsel said his client wants the matter dealt with as soon as possible.

He says 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 gardai, counsel said.

Full and proper disclosure had not been made to his client by the CFA, something the CFA is 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.

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