GAA coach challenges finding that he is a risk to children

A GAA coach has launched a High Court challenge aimed at quashing a finding by the Child and Family Agency that he represents a risk to children.
GAA coach challenges finding that he is a risk to children

The man, who cannot be identified for legal reasons is challenging the finding made two years ago after an investigation into an allegation he sexually abused a girl when she was aged between six and 16 years old.

Through his lawyers, the man yesterday gave an undertaking to the High Court to cease coaching until after the proceedings. The move came after Mr Justice Richard Humphreys remarked that it was “a bit odd” the man remained coaching youngsters after the agency finding in 2013.

Damien Colgan SC for the man said his client, who denies the allegations, is “entitled to a presumption of innocence” pending the outcome of his appeal.

Counsel said a woman who now lives abroad made a statement to gardaí alleging that between 1979 and 1989 she was sexually assaulted by the man. No prosecution was brought arising out of that complaint, counsel said.

Counsel said the matter was investigated by the HSE by a social worker.

In 2013, a finding was made by the Child and Family Agency (CFA) that the man is a risk to children and that third parties should be informed of this.

The man lodged an appeal against the CFA’s finding shortly after it was made, and no other complaint of this nature have ever been made about the man.

That appeal has not been heard for various reasons.

Counsel said his client, who wants the matter dealt with as soon as possible, says the investigation conducted on behalf of the CFA and the process involved in the probe, is fundamentally flawed.

Counsel said the social worker carrying out the investigation never interviewed the complainant, something that must be done as part of any such investigation.

The finding against the man, counsel said was based on a redacted statement the complainant made to gardaí.

Counsel said that full and proper disclosure had not been made to his client by the CFA, something the CFA is also obliged to do as part of the investigation process.

As a result, counsel said the man seeks orders quashing the finding in 2013 as well as an order preventing any further investigation into the complaints from proceeding.

The application for permission to bring the challenge was made, on an ex-parte basis, before Mr Justice Humphreys.

The judge adjourned the application to later this month.

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