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Victims of alleged Gaeltacht abuser urged to come forward

The Government says it was aware of allegations against Coláiste na bhFíann founder Domhnall Ó Lubhlaí.

James Reilly called on Ó Lubhlaí's victims to come forward during a Seanad discussion on the allegations this evening.
James Reilly called on Ó Lubhlaí's victims to come forward during a Seanad discussion on the allegations this evening.
Image: Oireachtas screengrab

THE GOVERNMENT has urged anyone who may have been abused by a well-known Irish language advocate, who founded one of the country’s most popular summer Gaeltacht courses, to come forward.

Health minister James Reilly made the call in the Seanad this evening during a debate on allegations of abuse made against Domhnall Ó Lubhlaí, the founder of Coláiste na bhFíann, who died earlier this year.

Reilly, speaking on behalf of justice minister Alan Shatter in the adjournment debate, said the HSE and voluntary groups could offer counselling for anyone who may have been abused.

Reilly said a preliminary report received by Shatter from the Garda authorities revealed that a criminal investigation into allegations of sexual abuse was initiated in 1997, leading to Ó Lubhlaí being charged with a significant number of sexual offences including the rape of several boys.

The prosecution collapsed, however, when Ó Lubhlaí sought a judicial review into the bringing of the proceedings against him – successfully arguing that too much time had passed since the offences, one of which was alleged to have begun in 1955.

There were also concerns that a secretly-recorded tape, in which Ó Lubhlaí was said to discuss some of his actions, had gone missing – along with a transcript of his remarks.

More recently, Reilly said, Gardaí and another alleged victim had made arrangements to make a statement, but this had not been possible prior to Ó Lubhlaí’s death in March at the age of 84.

Those concerns were related to school visits being made by Ó Lubhlaí to promote an Irish language book he had written.

Shortly after his death, Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan ordered a review of the investigations into the original allegations made against the former schoolteacher, who later founded Cumann na bhFíann and worked with Gael-Linn.

That review, aimed at identifying any shortcomings so that they are not repeated in future cases, is being undertaken by the Garda Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Unit.

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Gavan Reilly

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