UCD holds ‘no records’ related to child abuser John McClean

Former teacher and rugby coach convicted of sexually abusing 23 boys in Terenure College

John McClean in 2001,when he was director of Rugby at UCD Rugby Club. File photograph: Matt Browne/Sportsfile

John McClean in 2001,when he was director of Rugby at UCD Rugby Club. File photograph: Matt Browne/Sportsfile

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University College Dublin has said it does not hold any records related to convicted child abuser John McClean, who worked as director of the university’s rugby club for 15 years.

McClean (76), of Casimir Avenue, Harold’s Cross, Dublin, was sentenced to eight years in prison in February over the sexual abuse of 23 boys in Terenure College between 1973 and 1990.

McClean was an English teacher and rugby coach at the south Dublin fee-paying school from 1966 to 1996.

The court heard he had used his position organising costume fittings for school plays to molest multiple boys. The abuse also took place in his office, empty classrooms, and under the guise of examining sporting injuries.

McClean left Terenure College in 1996 after the father of one boy reported the abuse to the school. He then took up a coaching role as director of rugby in UCD, which he held until 2011.

In response to a Freedom of Information act request from The Irish Times, UCD said it did not hold any records related to McClean, or any documents related to his hiring.

“McClean was not employed as director of rugby by UCD, but by the UCD Rugby Club, and we do not have control over, or access to the records of the rugby club,” the university said.

McClean remained involved in the UCD Rugby Club’s coaching set-up for a number of years after he stepped down as rugby director in 2011.

In a statement following his sentencing, UCD Rugby Club said: “The crimes committed by John McClean are abhorrent and the devastation that his actions caused to so many people is unforgivable.”

The club said it had not been aware of the allegations against McClean until they were reported in the media in early 2018.

Nearly a dozen of the club’s current officers were contacted by The Irish Times, but all declined to comment on McClean.

The president of UCD Rugby Club, David Carrigy, who is World Rugby’s head of development and international relations, said he had nothing further to add to the club’s statement.

The club did not respond to queries on whether it sought references from McClean ahead of his appointment as director of rugby at the time, or if any were provided.

McClean was also head coach of the Leinster schoolboy development team for a number of years in the early to mid-1990s. He was assistant coach of the Ireland Schools team during a high-profile tour of Australia in the summer of 1996.

McClean travelled on the Australian tour despite the father of one of his victims reporting the abuse earlier that summer to Fr Robert Kelly, then-prior provincial of the Carmelite Order, who run Terenure College.

Both Leinster Rugby and the IRFU have said they are not aware of any abuse allegations related to McClean’s roles coaching the Leinster and Ireland schoolboy teams.

Close to 30 men who were alleged victims of McClean are now seeking to take civil legal cases against the school and the religious order. It is expected the costs, between legal fees and settlements, will likely run into several million euro.