Sunday 21 October 2018

'I can't understand why Donal Óg Cusack apologised and resigned for Tom Humphries character reference' - Joe Brolly

Joe Brolly has defended Donal Óg Cusack's character reference for Tom Humphries
Joe Brolly has defended Donal Óg Cusack's character reference for Tom Humphries
Cormac Byrne

Cormac Byrne

Joe Brolly doesn't understand why Donal Óg Cusack has resigned from the board of Sport Ireland over the controversy surrounding his character reference for convicted child abuser Tom Humphries.

Cusack subsequently apologised for a lack of judgement in writing the character reference for the man who was the ghost writer for his autobiography 'Come What May' which was published in 2010.

Humphries was sentenced to two-and-a-half years behind bars yesterday for the defilement of a child.

The former Cork goalkeeper stepped away from his position with Sport Ireland yesterday because he didn't want the fallout from the letter to detract from the work of the board.

Brolly, a criminal barrister, said that he didn't think Cusack was condoning child abuse and was acting in service of a friend and has been wrongfully criticised for his actions.

"I don't think that compassion can be qualified. I think of the Pope washing the feet of young offenders in an Italian prison recently, including sex offenders," Brolly told Today with Sean O'Rourke on RTE Radio One.

"I don't think anyone is condoning paedophilia and I don't think for a second that Donal Óg was condoning paedophilia and I can't understand why he has resigned and apologised for standing by a friend."

There has been outrage at the duration of the sentence handed out to Humphries but Brolly believes a more 'measured' debate is needed.

"The important thing is that we have a measured debate about these things," he added.

"I think back to 2000 or whenever the News Of The World launched their 'Hunt a paedophile' campaign. They published the names and addresses of paedophiles and lynch mobs surrounded their houses and people were burned out of their homes.

"In fact, at one stage you had a situation where a pediatrician had to flee her home after it was surrounded by a mob.

"Listening to the Joe Duffy show yesterday and some of the moral outrage that's out there, you've got to understand, and I'm a criminal barrister, that the vast majority of paedophile offences are committed by close family members. By a father, sometimes by a mother, by a grandparent.

"It's very, very important that these things are dealt with in a civilised way because once you hand it over to raw emotion then that's tantamount to tyranny.

"There is a huge focus on the Tom Humphries case. It's a very grave offence and it will have life-long consequences for that child and he'll be punished.

"We have to continue our lives. This is just one case among thousands and thousands of cases.

"What should we do? Should the GAA announce that it's shutting down altogether. What extremes do we go to? There are deviant human beings and people are going to be unfortunate to come into contact with them.

"You've got this situation where people are afraid to say anything because they don't know how society is going to react.

"I remember Michael Feeney who was a systematic predator of young boys, he was Ulster Council secretary, he used his position for 20 years to destroy countless lives but the GAA continues.

"I'm an underage coach and we were fortunate to win an under-16 championship last night. We all have to do child protection courses now. Everyone is trying to do their best in society but you must be careful to maintain a balance and allow the courts to do their jobs and not succumb to this base instinct of outrage and revenge."

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