Paedophile's clown obsession still haunts those who knew him
NOBODY wants to believe a trusted friend is a paedophile.
Ger Doyle's creepy obsession with clowns still haunts everyone who knew the disgraced Irish Olympic coach.
They used to hang from the ceiling of his home, which is around the corner from an all-boys secondary school. Friends who visited him said Doyle was a "neat freak" who kept collectable clowns in his bedroom and in the bathroom. They thought it was strange for a grown man.
When the swimming coach was out of work in 1999 after he had been diagnosed with leukaemia, children presented him with a clown as he attended a barbecue in New Ross, Co Wexford, after leaving hospital.
Now, five young men who were sexually abused by Ger Doyle (51) are trying to get on with their lives.
While they had some satisfaction in watching the former manager of New Ross swimming pool being led away in a prison van this week, there is an untold story of how many more people are deeply affected by the actions of this paedophile.
The abuse not only marred the lives of these five victims -- now grown men -- but their parents will never be the same. They are tormented by how much trust they placed in Doyle.
Parents saw him as part of the family. One man described how he was "like a brother".
When word broke that Doyle had been asked to step aside while a garda investigation was under way at the pool, everybody in New Ross assumed it was over missing money.
It was 2005 and nobody imagined that Ger Doyle, the Wexford Person of the Year 2004 and hard-working swimming coach, could be implicated in anything sordid.
The pool is well run today by staff who adhere strictly to protocols on child protection. But locals would like to see it levelled to the ground after what has happened.