Monday 16 September 2019

Party left stunned by minister's abuse probe

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Stock picture

Ken Foy

The political party of the former minister accused of child sex abuse is "stunned" by the revelations.

The disclosure in yesterday's Irish Independent about the former minister being under investigation after allegations he sexually abused children sent shockwaves through Leinster House.

The former minister is still an active party member.

A senior party source said: "We abide fully by the Children First guidelines and treat any allegations like this with the utmost seriousness."

A diary kept by an alleged victim of sexual abuse involving the former government minister will be central to a Garda investigation into the claims.

The woman, who is now in her 30s, is understood to have written down descriptions of the alleged abuse when she was a child. The alleged victim went to a Dublin garda station over 10 years ago to make a complaint about the incidents but she claims her story was not taken seriously.

She is understood to have been told by gardaí in early 2005 that she would need corroboration if officers were to pursue her allegations against the ex-politician.

News that a former minister is under investigation by the Garda National Protection Services Bureau sent shockwaves through Leinster House yesterday. Although the man is no longer a politician he remains an active member of his party.

Sources within that party said they were "stunned" by the allegations.

"Nobody can believe it and everybody hopes it's not true," said one political source.

A senior party source said: "We abide fully by the Children First guidelines and treat any allegations like this with the utmost seriousness."

It is not yet clear whether there will be any effort to suspend the man from the party while the Garda investigation is carried out.

TDs from all sides of the political divide expressed shock yesterday that a man thought of so highly could find himself at the centre of a child abuse probe.

The Garda investigation is likely to take some time to be completed, and the man against whom the allegations have been made is not expected to be formally interviewed by detectives until the new year.

Detectives plan to interview a number of other people in the coming weeks, and sources say they will speak to all potential victims and witnesses before questioning the ex-politician about the allegations.

The Irish Independent understands that when the allegations first surfaced a decade ago they came from a single source.

No other alleged victims would come forward and the case was not pursued when the woman decided not to make an official complaint.

That situation has now changed and specialist gardaí have spoken to the woman and a number of other alleged victims in recent months.

Yesterday, the Irish Independent revealed details of the shocking case, that was sparked when a number of allegations emerged separately over the last six months.

The former minister is extremely well respected in political circles.

The abuse is alleged to have happened at a location in Dublin and at another location in the Midlands. It is alleged that the abuse happened over a number of years in the 1990s.

In recent months, a woman was the first person to make a formal statement to specialist detectives about alleged abuse that she suffered.

Gardaí followed up her complaint by interviewing a number of other potential victims, both male and female.

Some have made allegations similar to those of the woman.

The suspect has not been interviewed by gardaí and it's understood that he is now aware of the allegations against him.

The Irish Independent understands that the allegations of sexual abuse are "not at the higher level of scale" in terms of potential prison sentences if he is convicted of an offence.

Irish Independent

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