Serial abuser Donal was involved in school trips

By Maurice Garvey

SERIAL abuser Donal Ó Lubhlaí was involved in kids trips to Irish language schools in the late 1990s, shortly before the truth about his horrific crimes came to light in the public eye.

Dubbed “Ireland’s Jimmy Savile”, Ó Lubhlaí is suspected of molesting hundreds of young boys dating back to the 1950s.

Donal OLubhlai2 1

Donal O Lubhlai

He was the founder of one of Ireland’s largest Irish colleges, Colaiste na bhFiann, a presenter of a TV show on RTE, and was a teacher in Clondalkin during the 1970s at Coláiste Chrónáin and Coláiste Chilliain.

Last week The Echo spoke with Liam O Maolaodha, who grew up in Clondalkin, went to Coláiste Chrónáin, and was one of Ó Lubhlaí’s victims in 1971.

O Maolaodha, the Director of Oireactas na Gaeilge, is leading renewed calls for the State to reveal the details of a sealed 2014 garda review into mishandling of complaints against Ó Lubhlaí, which has not been published nor has it been shared with victims.

Clondalkin Cllr Peter Kavanagh, a former student at Coláiste Chilliain recalled a first year school trip to Meath in November 1997, in which Ó Lubhlaí was present.

“Ó Lubhlaí wasn’t directly involved in the running of the trip but he was present,” said Cllr Kavanagh.

“He wasn’t a teacher. I’m not sure who he was involved with to be there, but he was supervising ceili’s. He was never allowed on his own with anyone. In the late 90s there was better childcare practices in place but we had no idea at the time bar his reputation as a cranky teacher.”

Not long after this trip, multiple men contacted gardai alleging Ó Lubhlaí sexually abused them.

Ó Lubhlaí was arrested and charged with 56 offences against 11 boys covering a time frame that began in 1955, but incredibly the 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.

Cllr Kavanagh, who is a friend of Liam’s son Dara, and would have been over to the O Maolaodha household almost daily as a child, was horrified to hear the sordid details of subsequent cases.

“In hindsight, it is shocking that he was allowed any involvement with children. I was very close with Liam’s son and have known Liam for over 30 years. I was blown away by the man’s bravery, the work and everything he has done for the Irish language, and his standing up for victims.”

Speaking to The Echo last week, Liam O Maolaodha saw parallels between the power exerted by Ó Lubhlaí, and the recent case of rugby coach John McClean, who was jailed last month for abusing boys in Terenure College between 1973 and 1990.

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.”

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