Tuesday 18 June 2019

Donal Óg Cusack's position a matter for minister, says Sport Ireland

Donal Og Cusack Picture: Sportsfile
Donal Og Cusack Picture: Sportsfile
Luke Byrne

Luke Byrne

Sport Ireland has said it is up to Sports Minister Shane Ross whether Donal Óg Cusack should step down from its board following the former Cork hurler's support for paedophile Tom Humphries.

Mr Cusack wrote a character reference which was handed to the Central Criminal Court in support of Humphries, who will today be sentenced for grooming and engaging in sexual acts with a child.

Humphries was a part-time GAA coach, and his victim was a 14-year-old camogie player when her ordeal began in 2008.

Sport Ireland is a statutory body with a function for protecting children in sport, including producing a code of ethics. Mr Cusack has been on its board since October 2015.

The former hurler has apologised for his lack of judgment in writing the letter, but he has not clarified whether he will step down from his position at Sport Ireland as a result.

Asked about Mr Cusack's board membership in light of the letter for Humphries, Sport Ireland said matters relating to the appointment of board members were "entirely a matter" for the Minister for Sport.

However, a spokeswoman for Mr Ross did not respond when asked by the Irish Independent if the minister believed Mr Cusack should remain on the board.

She said the minister had already commented and she didn't think it was likely he would say anything further.

Mr Ross has previously said it would be helpful if Mr Cusack could reflect on what appears to be an incompatibility between the child protection function of Sport Ireland and his letter.

In a message on social media on October 14, the former hurler said he condemned Humphries' crimes.

"I cannot begin to imagine the terrible suffering of the victim," he wrote.

"I apologise for any hurt or offence caused by my action. My intention was to help a human in a dark place who asked me for help.

"I showed a lack of judgment in this situation for which I am genuinely sorry," he said. "I will not be making any further comment and wish to let justice take its course."

Mr Cusack did not respond to a request for comment last night.

Chief sports writer with 'The Sunday Times' David Walsh also wrote a letter of support for Humphries.

Irish Independent

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