Minister to discuss extradition of swim coach accused of abuse

Fitzgerald responds to Dáil queries about Olympic coach George Gibney who lives in US

Minister for Justice and Equality Frances Fitzgerald will contact Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan with a view to discussing the case of former Irish Olympic swimming coach George Gibney.

Independent deputy Maureen O’Sullivan received a letter this week from Ms Fitzgerald stating she would follow up on questions raised this week in the Dáil by Ms O’Sullivan, who urged the Government to seek the extradition of Mr Gibney.

Ms O’Sullivan did not mention Gibney by name in her Dáil questions but referred to him as a “a notorious swimming coach accused of multiple cases of sex abuse who was granted a visa to live in the United States”.

Ms O’Sullivan received a call from the Department of Justice about the matter in the last two days but was informed that the Government cannot open the case. However as well as the issue being raised with the Garda Commissioner, Ms O’Sullivan has also contacted Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s office and will talk to him early next week about the questions she raised. Mr Kenny is currently out of the country.

Ms O’Sullivan believes that there was “a litany of mistakes” in the way the case was dealt with in the past and that some of the excuses that were made then would no longer be acceptable.

Government interest

The deputy also raised the issue of Maíria Cahill and her alleged abuse by IRA members, highlighting that there was intense Government interest on how alleged sex abusers in the North could freely move to another jurisdiction as Mr Gibney has done a number of times since leaving Ireland.

The case has also been picked up in the US by investigative reporter Irvin Muchnick.

He expects to hear back from the department of homeland security’s US citizenship and immigration services within the next two months regarding the details of the former coach’s visa and Green Card files.

Muchnick’s application is currently on file and is number 118 of 155 pending requests to homeland security. He has asked the department to supply details of who assisted or sponsored Mr Gibney in successfully attaining a Green Card.

More than 100 American swimming coaches have been jailed and/or banned for life from the sport in the past few years for offences against boys and girls. With new revelations numbers are still rising in what many people see as perhaps the biggest abuse scandal in the history of sport.

Swimming coach

Mr Gibney, national swimming coach from 1984-1991, was arrested in Ireland in April, 1993, and was charged on 27 counts of indecent assault and unlawful carnal knowledge at Dún Laoghaire District Court.

A judicial review in 1994 prevented the case from proceeding due to the length of time elapsed since the alleged incidents took place. Mr Gibney claimed that he could not remember details of the incidents that went as far back as the 60s. This was accepted.

He subsequently moved from Scotland to the US and now lives in Florida.

Johnny Watterson

Johnny Watterson

Johnny Watterson is a sports writer with The Irish Times

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