by Irvin Muchnick
Partial skeletal remains found last month at a waste ground site in south Dublin have led to buzzing that the bones could belong to Philip Cairns, the 13-year-old boy whose disappearance in 1986 became a national cause célèbre. In turn, this forces renewed pondering of uncomfortable global aspects of the investigation of George Gibney. These are precisely the aspects the Irish media don’t want to confront.
The bones were unearthed on April 9 near Lower Rathmines Road. There has been nothing officially new on that front since a statement 12 days later by the national police that they are attempting to identify the deceased. Challenges include the absence of a skull, thus precluding dental analysis. The discovery suggests a rushed reburial of a body originally disposed of elsewhere, though perhaps nearby.
What does this have to do with Gibney, the two-time Irish Olympic swimming coach who escaped trial on child sexual abuse charges in 1994, and who ever since has been something of a Flying Dutchman from justice and accountability as a permanent American resident alien?
There’s hope I might find out and be able to share more soon. For now, the speculation remains just that — at a level not verified enough to report.
In February, resetting the Gibney end game, I noted that a human trafficking finance specialist from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Money Laundering & Asset Recovery Section (MLARS) is the point person in the last stage of a federal government investigation of Gibney’s immigration status. This latest Gibney probe was triggered by the 2017 disclosures of my Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security for documents and data from the coach’s immigration file. The MLARS action is linked to a grand jury investigation in New York of insurance fraud, asset-hiding, and abuse cover-ups at the U.S. Olympic Committee affiliate USA Swimming. The Wall Street Journal and other American newspapers have reported the grand jury but not this Gibney offshoot. See https://concussioninc.net/?p=14173.
No one in Ireland has reported on Concussion Inc.’s latest, either, save for the Broadsheet news site and the Newstalk network’s Off the Ball podcast (see https://concussioninc.net/?p=14182). The other major sports podcast over there, Second Captains, is partnering with the British Broadcasting Corporation on a 10-part documentary series about Gibney that is expected to start airing in the next several weeks.
I think major Irish newspapers and broadcasters do a disservice when they allow weeks, months, years to peel off the calendar without at least elementary catch-up on Gibney developments, no matter how frustratingly slow. Stretches of silence contribute to the deterioration of public memory of the narrative and its awful implications.
And regardless of what these old bones, from an area called Lissenfield, turn up for the Philip Cairns case, that larger narrative includes what I called three months ago “the friends of Gibney in high places in Ireland,” who likely helped manufacture the diversity lottery visa that got him to America after a nepotism-tainted Irish Supreme Court quashed his indictment for dozens of instances of sexual abuse of his youth swimmers.
One of the strongest voices on the Cairns case was the former Irish radio presenter Gareth O’Callaghan, who himself publicly and bravely came out as a youth sexual abuse victim. I wrote about O’Callaghan’s role, in 2016, in organizing a 30th anniversary Philip vigil (https://concussioninc.net/?p=11492). I was in touch with Gareth through a mutual friend, an Irish-American woman in Chicago. Tragically, he had to retire in 2018, at age 57, because of a rare and incurable degenerative neurological condition.
The Garda say the new skeletal fragments belong to a young person between the ages of 5 and 20. This profile fits Philip. I think we can dismiss any possibility that it is the other best-known missing child case from the period: Mary Boyle, a 6-year-old who disappeared in 1977; Mary was from Ballyshannon, County Donegal — a different area of the Emerald Isle, near the Northern Ireland border. Philip lived in south Dublin.
So did Eva Brennan, who attended prayer groups with Philip and his family, and vanished in 1993. But she was 39.
Trevor Deeley, 22, disappeared in 2000 following a Christmas party of the bank where he worked, according to Irish sources. He lived close to Haddington Road, about two miles from Rathmines.
Certain tantalizing details, including a suicide around the same time as the recent remains discovery, point to the chance that the disappearance relates to a ring of privileged and well-connected sexual predators, and that there are logistical connections to what we are learning about the range of Gibney’s activities in Ireland. (Three years ago an Irish woman told Concussion Inc. that she was molested by Gibney in 1982 at the swimming pool of the exclusive Burlington Hotel in Dublin, while coaching colleague Ger Doyle — who unlike Gibney actually landed in prison for sex crimes — looked on. See https://concussioninc.net/?p=12080; https://concussioninc.net/?p=12083.)
The ebook THE GEORGE GIBNEY CHRONICLES: What the Hunt For the Most Notorious At-Large Sex Criminal in the History of Global Sports Has Told Us About the Sports Establishments and Governments on Two Continents is available for US $3.49, either at Amazon Kindle or, in PDF form, by sending the funds to firstname.lastname@example.org.