Gardaí say no to US group’s assistance

A US CHILD protection chief has criticised the Government and the Garda for not accepting professional assistance on tackling child abuse.

Evin Daly, the head of US group One Child International, which located the alleged child abuser George Gibney, a former Irish swimming coach, said efforts to assist the Gardaí and the Department of Health in promoting awareness had been flatly refused — and at times ignored.

“I proposed a forum to the Gardaí, the department of Health and a number of the NGOs where they and their US counterparts could meet and discuss ideas on child protection,” Mr Daly said.

“One Child International would have picked up the cost.

“I told our contact in the Gardaí that we would pay for a scholarship worth about €5,000 and not seek publicity from it — we were trying to help.”

Mr Daly, who is Irish, said he could not understand why there was such resistance to outside help.

“As the chief executive of an international child advocacy I would make a number of suggestions regarding the welfare of children in Ireland’s care.

“Remove the dead wood which is responsible for maintaining the current grossly inadequate system and replace them with people who have proven talent.

“Ireland needs to stop intellectualising this problem and act in protecting our children.

“Reports will collect dust — our children need protection now.”

Mr Daly said Ireland could have a world-class system of child protection if the resistance to change could be overcome.

“We have met that resistance ourselves. Efforts on our behalf to implement or suggest change have been ignored for no other reason, I believe, that they instil irrational fear in those who enjoy the status quo.”

Mr Daly met with the Department of Justice last spring to ask why the alleged rapist Gibney was never prosecuted after he was found living in Florida, where the organisation is based.

Mr Gibney coached swimming teams — including some at Olympic level — in Ireland for three decades until he fled in 1994. Ireland has never sought to extradite him.

Also this week, One Child has offered to pay for one of Mr Gibney’s alleged victims to fly to Florida and make a formal statement claiming she was raped and imprisoned in a Florida hotel room by her coach when she was 17.

A Garda spokesman said the force avails of and provides training to the highest possible level in the area of child protection.

The HSE said it is working with the Department of Children and Youth Affairs to develop a more consistent approach towards child protection services in Ireland.

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