Irish Legislator Maureen O’Sullivan Guest Column: ‘My Concern Is For Victims of Abuse Who Have Never Had Justice’

Published December 13th, 2017, Uncategorized

Maureen O’Sullivan represents the Dublin Central district in the Dáil Éireann, principal chamber of the Irish legislature.

A 2015 report on Ireland’s RTÉ Radio about O’Sullivan’s work to revive prosecution of George Gibney is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KxwcvHbbQVA.

 

by Maureen O’Sullivan

 

Every day in recent times we have reports of men and women reporting allegations of abuse, physical, emotional, sexual, psychological, abuse which occurred over a number of years; many of these allegations involve high-profile figures.

These reports make for very very grim reading as they outline the way in which figures in prominent positions abused those positions of influence and power and where their victims, the survivors of the abuse, suffered. Those victims are making their voices heard which has given encouragement to others to reveal their experience of abuse.

We know how important it is for those abused to have a voice, to be supported and believed and to have justice.

My concern today is for those victims of abuse who have never had justice and because of that they continue to live in pain, they continue to suffer; every time another allegation is made they relive their experience of abuse. They are seeing how today victims of abuse are believed and supported; today victims will have their day in court and, more than ever today, the perpetrator will be subject to the rigours of the law.

And I particularly remember the victims of another powerful, high profile person at the time of the abuse – swimming coach George Gibney who was arrested and indicted on 27 accounts of indecent carnal knowledge of minors. Those minors were denied justice and continue to be denied justice today. George Gibney’s case was thrown out of court due to a statute-of-limitations ruling by the Irish Supreme Court.

How those victims must have felt! They had been brave in coming forward, they had been hopeful of justice and then the Irish so-called justice system let them down. Then George Gibney was facilitated in moving to the U.S. which raises questions on the American Immigration system, American law enforcement and on the personnel and procedures in American swimming. We know the abuse that has recently been uncovered in American swimming circles.

The Irish victims continue to suffer today because efforts to extradite George Gibney from America have failed – to date.

Those Irish swimmers have been so damaged – abused, sexually assaulted, raped. They were robbed of their dignity, sense of self, their self-esteem and confidence. They were deprived of realising their potential as great swimming champions for their country; some of them cannot go into the water today because of their memories of what happened through their sport. There have been breakdowns in relationships and tragic deaths. They are still suffering because they never experienced justice.

Bringing the perpetrator to justice is so important to the recovery process. Will it happen?

I want to acknowledge the work of American supporters Irvin Muchnick of Concussion Inc. and Evin Daly of One Child for their persistence and determination in trying to achieve justice for these victims and in trying to ascertain how America could have facilitated the entry and continued presence of one against whom there had been charges of abuse.

I acknowledge those who are coming forward today to tell of the abuse they have suffered; I want the same respect and access to justice for those abused by George Gibney and the other ‘George Gibney’s’ who have never been brought to court.

Muchnick’s just-concluded Freedom of Information Act lawsuit for the American government’s records in Gibney’s immigration file has yielded important new timeline details and raised serious new questions about the actions of the U.S. government, in addition to Ireland’s. With the current heightened awareness of sexual assault and harassment issues, thanks to the global #MeToo social media campaign, my hope is to be able to work with the appropriate officials in both countries to help bring a constructive resolution to the long quest for closure for Gibney’s victims, as well as accountability for the government agencies and sports groups that have enabled his flight from justice.