Calls to release details of review on serial abuser

By Maurice Garvey

FRESH calls have been made for gardai to release the details of a review in the case of serial abuser Donal Ó Lubhlaí, a man known as the ‘Irish language Jimmy Savile’.

Ó Lubhlaí, a teacher in Clondalkin during the 1970s at Coláiste Chrónáin and Coláiste Chilliain, is suspected of abusing hundreds of young boys across the country dating back to the 1950s.

Donal OLubhlai2 1

Donal O’Lubhlai

He was regarded as an Irish language hero from the 1950s, founded Irish language college Coláiste na bhFiann, was active in Comhdháil Náisúnta na Gaeilge, and appeared on tv numerous times.

In the 1990s, six men filed allegations but incredibly, the court case collapsed in 2002 after gardai misplaced evidence, which was either lost or destroyed.

Ó Lubhlaí died in his native Mullingar in 2013, having avoided justice.

TG4 released a documentary about Ó Lubhlaí in 2013, which Liam O Maolaodha, appeared on, yet subsequent inquiries and political pressure led nowhere. A review into garda mishandling of complaints against Ó Lubhlaí has not been published nor has it been shared with victims.

A widely held view among those who have closely followed the case, is that Ó Lubhlaí, a sometime prominent member of Sinn Féin, became an informer for the State.

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Liam O Maolaodha

Liam O Maolaodha, who grew up in Clondalkin and went to Coláiste Chrónáin, was one of Ó Lubhlaí’s victims.

O Maolaodha recently spoke again on a TG4 documentary Finne, detailing the abuse, how it effectively ended his marriage and how he finally decided to speak out about it for the first time in 2012, when it seemed no action was to be taken.

In 1971, Ó Lubhlaí, a new teacher in Clondalkin, turned up at the O Maolaodha home unannounced, and said he needed Liam to help him with a project for the weekend.

Only 15 at the time, Liam was abused that weekend and again two weeks later during another trip to Connemara.

Ó Lubhlaí was head of his Irish Gaeltacht’s at the time, which were run with military precision, a remnant perhaps of his Irish army background.

In the TG4 documentary, Liam said Ó Lubhlaí was known as a terrifying teacher “loud and cross-looking”.

He said kids at the Gaeltacht in the West of Ireland would be terrified to be called out to travel in O’Lubhlai’s car for ‘meetings’ he was to attend around the country.

“That was his modus operandi,” said Liam.

“He had control over me the first time he abused me – he had control over the other lads that he subjected to the same assaults.”

Speaking to The Echo this week, Liam said questions put to previous Justice Ministers and Garda Commissioners have failed to reveal the truth.

“I was never sure if there was anything in this informant stuff, but the more you ask questions, and the more you get fobbed off, you start to question maybe there is something in this,” said Liam.

Liam sent a letter to Garda Commissioner Drew Harris on February 4, calling for the publication of the 2014 review, which he believes would be “the first step in a much wider inquiry into how this paedophile was allowed to continue to abuse young boys with apparent immunity.”

Liam grew up in a large family of seven kids in the Station road area. His grandfather Davy Molloy was one of the founding members of Round Tower GAA, whom Liam was a member of, and Liam played in Croke Park with the U12’s.

Liam moved to Galway 12 years ago. He had a love of the Irish language before Ó Lubhlaí arrived in Clondalkin, and has been Director of Oireactas na Gaeilge for over 40 years.

“I had been to the Gaeltacht in Kerry and had some abilities. I am still at it 40 plus years later, thankfully it is a bigger picture,” said Liam.

Breeda Bonner, a former Labour Cllr and Principal at St Bernadette’s in Clondalkin, said Ó Lubhlaí was posted there in the 70s due to the a “strong Irish movement” in the area, “however in my opinion underlying the whole thing is this scandal.”

Bonner did not have any direct involvement with Ó Lubhlaí during her career as an educator in Clondalkin, but acknowledges his reputation for terrifying young boys.

“Corporate punishment was banned in 1982, when we started teaching, discipline was an issue because we had proper discipline and the kids were used to corporate punishment. The priest came in one day and mentioned Ó Lubhlaí has no problem with this in his school, we said do you not know why – he induces fear in the kids.”

Bonner said her proudest moment as Deputy Mayor was going to the annual Oireachtas event.

“I was so proud of Liam, he managed the whole thing, a national organisation, no messing, so competent, he is such a nice person. Despite terrible things that happened, it was Liam who organised the 50-year anniversary for Coláiste Chrónáin a couple of years ago.”

Cllr Eoin Ó Broin (Ind), a former student of Coláiste Chilliain, forwarded a Motion at the recent area meeting, calling for the garda review to be published, which was supported by Cllr Peter Kavanagh (Ind), another former Coláiste Chilliain pupil.

Chris O’Dwyer, the Labour Party’s Local Area Representative in Clondalkin-Rathcoole, contacted Labour Justice spokesperson Brendan Howlin, to urge Justice Minister Helen McEntee to release the 2014 garda report into the circumstances of the disappearance of the evidence against O’Lubhlai.

“By not publishing the report and making it available to the survivors, the State is continuing to fail O’Lubhlai’s survivors and prolonging the abuse they experienced at his hands. Since 2013 every Minister of Justice has failed the survivors and I am calling on Minister McEntee to break that cycle,” said O’Dwyer.

Since he first spoke out Liam has been contacted by numerous other victims and he reckons there are hundreds out there, some of whom have not yet spoken, or may not want to.

“I know at least 10 people who I have spoken to, who hope this review is made public,” said Liam.

“Catherine Connolly TD has raised questions about it. If gardai were to just show her the review and she saw nothing in it, I would accept that.”

Catherine Connolly said: “This is a very serious matter. We have come up against the first obstacle, which we anticipated. I will be pursuing the publication of the review by An Garda Síochána into their handling of the case.”

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