AN Irishman who is wanted by the Canadian Mounties on charges alleging the sexual abuse and physical assault of native Indian children has been tracked to a plush Dublin suburb.
The charges relate to a period from the mid-1960s to the late 1970s, when Edward Gerald Fitzgerald - who emigrated to Canada from Clonmel, Co Tipperary, in the late 1950s - worked as a boys-dormitory supervisor at two residential schools. The schools, in British Columbia, were run by the Oblate order of Mary Immaculate.
Mr Fitzgerald, now 81, returned to Ireland in 2002, not long after being interviewed by members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in relation to an investigation involving 21 alleged offences against 10 boys in his care.
A warrant for his arrest has been issued in Canada and Interpol has been alerted, but it is extremely unlikely that Mr Fitzgerald could be returned to Canada to stand trial because there is no extradition treaty between Canada and Ireland.
A spokesman for the department for justice said a draft extradition treaty was completed with Canada in 1999 but a final agreement was never reached.
Mr Fitzgerald is believed to have been living with relatives in the leafy suburb of Sandymount, where neighbours are unaware that he is wanted. The authorities here have been told that he is in the country and that he could face immediate arrest and extradition proceedings should he travel to the North or Britain.
His departure from Canada came after an interview by members of a special task force of the Mounties, which was investigating allegations of widespread sexual and physical abuse of hundreds of boys at up to 15 residential schools that were run by the Catholic Church and other Christian denominations.
He left Canada before he could be brought to court but, should he return, the charges dating from March 3, 2003, would be put to him. These range from indecent assault to gross indecency and common assault, against 10 boys aged under 16.
The charges relate to the period when he worked at the Lejac Residential School and St Joseph's Residential School, both of which were in Northern British Columbia and have since been closed down.
Mr Fitzgerald is the last of 14 people sought in relation to 974 offences against more than 400 children, said Mike Pacholuk, a Mounties corporal.
Cpl Pacholuk said Mr Fitzgerald had been a dormitory supervisor to boys aged six to 12, and he would have been expected "to act as a father figure". He had been praised by Canada's department of Indian and Northern Affairs for his professionalism and good conduct towards students.
It is understood the Mounties traced him to his Dublin address, through Interpol, a year ago, and tried to persuade him to return to Canada to answer the charges.
However, this approach failed, and the Canadian investigating team fear that even if extradition was to be introduced between Ireland and Canada, Mr Fitzgerald could have died of old age by the time the legal process to take him back to British Columbia was exhausted.
Mr Fitzgerald was said to be fit and well when interviewed in Canada, aged 76. Before taking up a post at the school, he is understood to have spent time working as a salesman.