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Victim of paedo soldier Michael McGuinness waives anonymity to expose abuser

Michael McGuinness terrified Derek Whelan and two other victims into silence by showing them 'bullets he'd brought home from the war'
Derek Whelan waived his anonymity to expose McGuinness

Derek Whelan waived his anonymity to expose McGuinness

Patrick O'Connell

A victim of paedophile soldier Michael McGuinness today waives his anonymity to blast the abuser as a 'predator of children who hid in plain sight."

In a shocking interview with the Sunday World, 49-year-old Derek Whelan reveals how McGuinness:

  • Groomed him from the age of eight by bringing him presents from the Lebanon and taking him on a tour of Cathal Brugha Barracks;
  • Instigated sessions of abuse by putting money in his underwear and getting the innocent youngster to search for it;
  • Terrified him, and two other victims, into silence by showing them 'bullets he'd brought home from the war'; and
  • Was finally brought to justice this week as a result of a 'one-in-a-million chance meeting' with Derek four years ago.

"I heard his voice behind me, that's all it took," said Derek of that fateful encounter in the reception of the Irish Wheelchair Association's branch in Lucan, Dublin.

"In that moment, I was eight-years-old again and terrified.

"But it had to be fate. For the two of us to be working for the same organisation, and for me to be standing in the reception at that moment, it's one in a million."

"I work as a driver and personal assistant for the Association in the Lucan Branch," Derek continued.

"I didn't know it, at that time, but he [McGuinness] was doing the same job in Clane in Kildare.

"I was talking to the girl in the reception and I had my head down and then I heard his voice.

"I immediately recognised it. I didn't even have to look up. And that's when I reported it all. I went to the Association's Service Support Officer first.

"She went to the line manager who went to the safeguarding team and he was suspended straight away. And then, I went to the guards."

Derek on his Communion days before the abuse started

Derek on his Communion days before the abuse started

As well as coming forward himself, Derek also spoke with two other men who were abused by McGuinness while he lived on Kildare Road in Crumlin between 1979 and 1990.

Each had shared near identical experiences at McGuinness's hands and both made formal statements outlining what he had done to them.

"He (McGuinness) was always standing, arms over his front wall, making chit-chat with everyone. He started on me by offering me money or asking me to go to the shops for him.

"Once he brought me a ghetto blaster back from the Lebanon.

"Back then, nobody had nothing.

"There was a recession going on and he was a soldier. People deferred to him."

Quickly, in Derek's case, McGuinness moved from grooming to full-on-abuse.

"He'd take me off in the car and put money down his underwear and tell me to go and get it."

Derek said the abuse went on for years but he was too frightened to tell anyone what was going on.

"It went on from my Communion to my Confirmation, so it was over a four-year-period. And it wasn't once every now and again - it was a regular occurrence.

"He'd bring home and show you ammunition, so you'd be terrified to open your mouth."

Michael McGuinness will be sentenced next year

Michael McGuinness will be sentenced next year

Derek said the abuse only stopped when he reached the age where he began to realise what was happening was wrong.

"It got too dangerous for him [McGuinness] then," he surmised.

"The older I was getting, the wiser I was getting, and realising what he had done wasn't right.

"And then one day, suddenly, him, his mother and his sisters were just gone."

More than 30 years later, a shame-faced McGuinness would be called before Dublin Circuit Court this week to answer for his crimes.

He pleaded guilty to five counts of indecently assaulting the three boys in Dublin and in unknown locations in the State between 1979 and 1990.

The court heard that he had an 'exemplary record' and was honourably discharged from the army in 2000.

Derek said such claims had sickened him to his core when spoken in court.

"I just wanted to shout at him," he said.

"And if there are any other people he abused out there, I'd urge them to come forward.

"People like him, they need to be held to account.

"And people will listen.

"From the moment I reported him to the Irish Wheelchair Association I knew I was believed.

"The association supported me all the way through this - giving me time off to pursue it and they were even with me in court this week."

Judge Melanie Greally remanded McGuinness in custody and ordered a number of reports before adjourning sentence to March 15 next.

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