Irish Independent

‘Grotesque’ ex-teacher told priest about abuse 25 years ago

- Robin Schiller

A FORMER rugby coach who indecently assaulted 23 boys at a Dublin fee-paying school admitted the sexual abuse to a senior priest 25 years ago, a court has heard.

John McClean (76) will be sentenced next week over the abuse of the schoolboys, aged between 11 and 17, at Terenure College from 1973 to 1990.

At the time McClean worked at the Carmelite Order-run school and was an English teacher, while also coaching rugby.

Yesterday Dublin Circuit Court heard a father of one of the victims brought his son’s abuse to the attention of a senior member of the Carmelite community in 1996 while McClean was still working at the school.

The court heard the then Prior Provincial of the Irish Province of Carmelites, Fr Robert Kelly, told the father the matter should be reported to gardaí.

This complaint was made but never prosecuted, Inspector Jason Miley said.

Evidence was given that McClean was then spoken to by the school and told he could no longer teach or train rugby there.

The court heard the former teacher took a career break before later coaching rugby at UCD.

Under cross-examinatio­n from defence counsel Sean Guerin SC, Insp Miley agreed that Fr Kelly had taken notes at the time, in which it was stated that he discussed the alleged abuse with McClean.

The notes said that McClean admitted the abuse, the court heard.

The court was also told Fr Kelly informed gardaí he had no specific memory of this encounter, but accepted that if it was recorded in the notes then it was true.

John McClean was first interviewe­d about the complaints in 2018 and denied all allegation­s of abuse.

Throughout much of the proceeding­s this week, McClean, of Casimir Avenue, Harold’s Cross, sat either with his hands covering his face, or looking at the ground as the evidence of the abuse he carried out was heard.

The defence also said they were “under no illusion” that McClean was going to prison, and that he should receive a Covid-19 vaccinatio­n before he goes into custody

Mr Guerin said his client wanted to offer his unconditio­nal apology to the victims and their families for the effect his sexual offending had caused.

McClean is, his counsel said, “very, very sorry for what he did” and is ashamed for the harm he caused to the victims, the school and his own family.

He said his name will be “forever

infamous for what he has done”.

The court heard McClean has no previous conviction­s and that he is not suspected of any offending since 1996.

Earlier prosecutor Paul Murray SC continued going through the evidence of the complainan­ts and their victim impact statements at Dublin Circuit Court. Evidence was given of 15 victims on Wednesday and a further eight were heard yesterday.

One man described John McClean as a “grotesque and manipulati­ve” man who was hiding behind a mask of respectabi­lity, while another said that he feared there were more victims than the 23 complainan­ts.

Another suggested in a statement to the court that the parents of the victims should be refunded their school fees in full.

The court heard how one boy was aged 11 when he was molested by McClean, who he called “The Doc”, in a changing room in the early 1980s.

Another boy was 12 when he was indecently assaulted by McClean in his office around 1983.

In his statement, the victim, addressing Terenure College, said “this 23 [victims] is a big part of your culture”.

Evidence was then given of one boy who was abused from the age of 12 over a three-year period in the mid 1980s.

He said McClean began talking to him about his personal life and befriendin­g him, before this escalated to sexual abuse.

Another 12-year-old boy, abused on one occasion during the 1980s in his office, said he struggled to come to terms with how “grotesque and manipulati­ve” McClean was behind the “mask of respectabi­lity and cloak of authority”.

He also described him as a “monster in disguise” who is a “depraved, calculatin­g and ill man”.

McClean also abused one of his English students (12) in 1974.

Evidence was then heard of a 12-year-old boy who was indecently assaulted in the mid1970s during a costume fitting in the changing room of the concert hall.

The child was wearing a dress for a school play and McClean told him to take his underwear off.

He then abused the boy, and later got on top of him. In his statement the victim said that McClean asked him “Do you like this, does your daddy do this to you?”

Another schoolboy was 16 when he was abused by McClean during a costume fitting in the late 1970s.

He said that he was the English teacher’s “pet” and was picked for a big role in a school play, only realising later that he was being groomed.

The man added that there were wonderful teachers in Terenure College at the time but that some chose to look the other way. “Shame on them,” he added.

The final victim was abused twice by McClean in the mid1980s as a 13-year-old, and again in 1990.

“He was a big man and I was small and skinny,” he said, adding: “I thought he was getting pleasure every time he hit me.”

The victim also said that he told a teacher in third year: “You have to speak to John McClean.”

He said he walked away expecting to be called back to offer an explanatio­n for the comment, but he wasn’t.

Judge Pauline Codd said she will sentence John McClean on Thursday of next week.

CLOSE to four out of 10 workers have no pension in place for when they retire and will be relying on the State pension.

It comes after indication­s that the planned auto-enrolment pension scheme has again been delayed.

The overwhelmi­ng majority of those with no occupation­al pension coverage are in the private sector.

Pension coverage is lowest among younger workers, according to new data from the Central Statistics Office.

It shows that, overall, 64.7pc of people in work between the ages of 20 and 69 had supplement­ary pension cover in the July-to-September period of last year.

But just a quarter of workers aged 20 to 24 years had a pension.

Pension coverage is greatest among workers aged 45 to 54 years, where more than three-quarters of persons in employment had supplement­ary pension coverage.

The analysis found that 95.8pc of public servants are covered by a State pension.

This comes on the back of other data from the CSO this week showing that a quarter of all the money owed in pensions to households is due to go to public servants.

Just a third of those who have a pension said they have a defined benefit pension.

This is where the amount paid is guaranteed.

A public servant with a full 40 years of service will retire on an annual pension equivalent to half their salary and a tax-free lump sum of oneand-a-half times their annual pay.

The rest have defined contributi­on pensions, where the pension amount depends on the funds put into it and the performanc­e of the fund.

Half of those who do not have an occupation­al pension said their employer does not offer one. And affordabil­ity was cited by more than a third of employees with no supplement­ary pension cover.

Another third said they never got around to organising it.

The State pension was cited as the expected source of income on retirement for 57.6pc of workers with no pension coverage.

Just over 8pc said they would rely on savings or investment­s.

CSO statistici­an Maureen Delamere said the figures do not cover people who are not in employment or may have been laid off due to the pandemic. The results cover pension provision outside of the State pension.

She said that for those in a job there had been a rise of almost five percentage points in pensions coverage compared with the same quarter in 2019.

Chief executive of the Irish Pension Funds Associatio­n Jerry Moriarty said the survey may give an overly optimistic picture of pensions coverage as the survey only takes account of those currently paying into a pension and those that have some form of pension from the past.

He said that despite this, it still highlights that a significan­t portion of workers are not now, or ever have been, in a pension plan.

“It is important that the Government continues to work on introducin­g automatic enrolment so that all employees will be automatica­lly included in a pension plan and can then decide whether they continue to save for retirement or optout.”

The introducti­on of autoenrolm­ent has been delayed.

It will not be implemente­d until at least 2023.

NOW here’s one from the cold comfort department: Brexit’s fallout will remain with us long after Covid-19 recedes dimly into the most unpleasant corners of our collective national memory.

The Irish Border is once more back on the Brexit tightrope, with a renewed row over the North’s special EU trade status and its consequenc­es for its links with England, Scotland and Wales.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s haste to “get Brexit done” on time for January 1 merely compounded the inbuilt conflicts.

In a post-Brexit world, one of three things has to give: 1. No return of a ‘hard Border’ in Ireland; 2. Special EU trade status for the North; 3. No change in the North’s continuing trade links with Britain.

Over four-and-a-half years of chaotic and bad-tempered EU-UK divorce talks, the outline of a deal emerged.

It is important to note that points one and two cited above won out. Concession­s were given on point number three – agreed by London many times – to allow some changes to the North’s trade with the other constituen­t parts of the United Kingdom.

But the inherent conflict in getting a political fix for point three is large. On the one hand both London and Belfast want minimal and smooth controls for trade with Britain and the North.

One the other hand the EU wants controls to be effective and credible.

When internal member state border controls are abandoned, external EU controls have to be strong.

One of the largely ignored consequenc­es of Brexit was that the benighted Irish Border became the EU single market’s only de facto land border with the UK.

After conceding point three, Johnson then pretended it could never mean a border in the Irish Sea.

Then when the going got rough, Johnson last September threatened to break internatio­nal law by reneging on the EU-UK trade deal. As Brexit talks improved in tone, and inched their way to a belated deal, UK Brexit minister Michael Gove and EU Commission­er, Maros Sefcovic, put the North’s special status back on track.

But amid all the Brexit hullabaloo of a Christmas Eve Brexit deal, Johnson did two things to compound the recurring mess around Northern Ireland.

He continuall­y denied the Irish Sea border reality; and he hurtled towards a situation where ill-prepared business people across the four constituen­t parts of the UK faced a totally changed trading regime which they could not know.

When the European Commission grossly erred on January 29 and announced the emergency sealing of the Irish Border – to ensure no EU-made AstraZenec­a vaccines would breach an import ban via an Irish back-door to Britain – all hell broke loose. There was fury in Dublin, Belfast and London.

Mr Gove swung into action, demanding changes to the British-Northern Ireland trade rules.

He demanded a two-year extension to the April 1 deadline for full-on EU checks in the North. The irony is that London already turned down a two-year EU extension to Brexit negotiatio­ns to allow complex issues such as these be ironed out and prepared for.

Since then the ‘rhetoric meter’ has been in overdrive, with both sides trading threats.

Word from Brussels is that certain member states, notably France, are running out of patience with the British stance.

The EU is demanding real customs and product checks to protect the integrity of its single market.

Concession offers will be on practical and procedural matters to speed up and smooth those checks – not abolish them.

Brussels officials say the real fear is that Ireland could lose out. If London and Brussels cannot agree this – and the Democratic Unionist Party, whose Brexit stance contribute­d to this mess, do not accept reality – then things are headed for a very bad situation for all of Ireland.

Single market access could be called into doubt.

 ?? PHOTO: COLLINS COURTS ?? Manipulati­ve: John McClean sat with his hands covering his face as the evidence of his abuse was heard in court
PHOTO: COLLINS COURTS Manipulati­ve: John McClean sat with his hands covering his face as the evidence of his abuse was heard in court
 ?? PHOTO: PA ?? Showdown:
Maros Sefcovic is set for talks with UK Brexit minister Michael Gove
PHOTO: PA Showdown: Maros Sefcovic is set for talks with UK Brexit minister Michael Gove
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