Sunday 18 November 2018

Interpol given access to film of O Searcaigh youths

Poet Cathal O'Searcaigh denies any wrongdoing
Poet Cathal O'Searcaigh denies any wrongdoing

Anne-Marie Walsh

INTERPOL has access to full unedited transcripts and DVD footage of interviews with young men who had sex with Cathal O Searcaigh.

The maker of the documentary that brought the poet's lifestyle into question has revealed she gave lengthy footage from interviews omitted from 'Fairytale of Kathmandu' to officials at home.

An investigation is ongoing after the Interpol office in the Phoenix Park contacted police in Nepal to see if there were grounds for a prosecution due to the poet's activities in the country.

Last night, documentary director Neasa Ni Chianain said she has not dealt with Interpol directly, but believes the international police organisation is likely to have access to footage and transcripts she handed over on her return to Ireland.

Interpol has been probing the poet's activities for over two years acting on a tip off from the Department of Social Welfare's child protection section.

Mr O Searcaigh could face prosecution under Irish law if he is found to have committed sex crimes abroad. The Sexual Offences Jurisdiction Act 1996 would allow charges to be brought if the poet was found to have had sex with a boy aged 16 or under -- as 17 is the age of consent in Ireland.

It has also emerged that a Nepalese-sponsored charity, Child Welfare Board, has expressed 'serious concerns' about the case after launching an investigation.

"Everything that was in the documentary was legally safe, but all material, including lengthy interviews, have been passed on to the authorities," said Ms Ni Chianain.

"When I came back from Kathmandu, I gave the interviews to the North Western Health Board, and it passed them on to the Department of Social Welfare. I believe they were then passed on to gardai."

She also revealed that two of the boys who came into contact with O Searcaigh are still receiving counselling from the non-governmental organisation Voices of Children.

Ms Ni Chianain said she tried to contact a third young man to see if he wanted to avail of counselling too, but was unable to reach him.

She also lashed out at Mr O Searcaigh's former spokesman Liam Gaskin for attempting to cast doubt on her integrity, and she criticised those who have claimed she had 'coached' the boys in some way.

"It's difficult to have your integrity and professionalism criticised," she said. "And it is hard to take the accounts of supposedly creative editing.

"We were rigorous in what was put into the programme. I've been accused of coaching boys by people who have never seen the transcripts.

"So many bodies combed through this footage before it went out, so it's very hard to take. The person who breaks the silence is the evil one, it seems.

"I was hoping the film would speak for itself, but then Liam Gaskin made a lot of unsubstantiated criticisms about me and accused me of coercion, but hasn't produced any evidence yet.

When asked if she regretted airing the documentary, she said: "I couldn't have done anything else. I gave a lot of time to Cathal to address the issue.

"I'm not against Cathal. I'm against his actions."

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