Monday 10 December 2018

Poet finally breaks silence and claims 'I have been wronged'

RTE Raidio na Gaeltachta broadcaster Aine Ni Churrain who conducted the interview with the embattled poet Cathal O Searcaigh
RTE Raidio na Gaeltachta broadcaster Aine Ni Churrain who conducted the interview with the embattled poet Cathal O Searcaigh

Anita Guidera

CONTROVERSIAL poet Cathal O Searcaigh has broken his seven-week silence to defiantly insist he has been wronged.

The embattled Donegal poet, who admitted sleeping with teenage boys in Nepal, claims he has been branded a "rapist".

And he reveals that he intends returning in the future to continue his work in Nepal.

Mr O Searcaigh, in an interview with Radio na Gaeltachta to be broadcast today, says: "I'm charged with this and that, but this is what happens when you're in the centre of a publicity circus."

He has been in hiding since controversy erupted over a television documentary depicting his relationship with teenage boys, above the age of consent, in Nepal.

Speaking from a secret location in the pre-recorded interview, he says he was surprised that the Rape Crisis Centre had become involved.

No formal allegation of rape has been made.


But last night Network director Fiona Neary defended its involvement, claiming that after viewing the documentary 'Fairytale of Kathmandu' she was convinced the poet had sexually exploited the young men.

During the hour-long interview, which is in Irish, O Searcaigh talks about his poetry on the Leaving Certificate syllabus.

O Searcaigh also reveals in the interview that he is hurt that students studying his poetry are also referring to him as a rapist.

He says: "I'm surprised that the Rape Crisis Centre has become involved in this. You'd think I was a rapist."

And he says he has been hurt by anecdotes of people dubbing him a "rapist".

"A friend of mine has told me of a teacher who is currently teaching my poetry and that a pupil came into class and asked did they have to study that rapist. That sort of thing goes to my heart."

Last night, Ms Neary said that the issues should not be clouded.

"I think Mr O Searcaigh is being a little pedantic or over-literal. The Rape Crisis Network, which is the umbrella body for 14 rape crisis centres, does not exclusively deal with rape but all kinds of sexual violence and sexual abuse.

"To spell it out, penetration does not have to be involved. He is very much in denial.

"We became involved because you can certainly see there is sexual exploitation here.

"The ethics and morality are very muddied. It appears he has enormous advantage over these young men, in terms of wealth, education, and sexual knowledge."

Today's interview was conducted by Aine Ni Churrain, presenter of Barrscealta, a daily current affairs programme to which O Searcaigh has been a regular contributor.

The radio station would not confirm where the interview took place, but it is understood the presenter met with the poet in recent days, in an undisclosed location which was arranged by his friends.

Ms Ni Churrain also talks to him about the advanced plans by Donegal County Council to develop an artists' retreat at the poet's house near Gortahork.

Mr O Searcaigh, who is believed to be still abroad, says in the interview that he hopes to return home to Ireland soon and to continue with his work in Nepal.

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