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landmark case Victims of sex offender Ronan McCormack launch legal action against GAA

Paedophile Ronan McCormack abused young players entrusted into his care at Eastern Harps GAA club in Sligo.


Ronan McCormack

Ronan McCormack

Ronan McCormack

Three men sexually abused by football coach Ronan McCormack are suing the GAA in the first such case to attempt to hold the sporting organisation responsible.

Paedophile Ronan McCormack, who finished a prison sentence last year, abused young players entrusted into his care over several years at Eastern Harps GAA club in Sligo in the '70s and '80s.

News of the High Court action, launched in 2016 when McCormack was still in prison, emerged this week.

Representatives of the Sligo club and the GAA at the time are listed as defendants in the case as is the Health Service Executive in one of the cases.

When approached by the Sunday World shortly after walking free from the Midlands Prison last year McCormack mumbled ‘No’ when asked if he had anything to say about his lifetime of sexual abuse.

He then pulled his jacket over his head and got in a car.

The farmer and GAA man from Sligo had spent years abusing boys entrusted to him as a volunteer football coach and took full advantage to satisfy his twisted needs.

One victim who spoke to the Sunday World believes the Sligo farmer’s horrific abuse may have led some people to taking their own lives.

The man, who does not want to be named, also said that he believes much more could have been done to stop McCormack.

“People knew I was getting abused and nothing was done. He kept abusing us until we were old enough to get away from him,” he told the Sunday World.

“He destroyed people’s lives,” he added.

McCormack now aged 77 had feared he would die in jail after he was sentenced to seven years in 2017 when more victims came forward.

The sex monster from Cloonloo left a trail of devastation in his wake after embarking on a litany of sexual assault on the boys who are aged 9 to 13 years of age in the 1970s and ‘80s.

At the time he had been a respected underage coach at Eastern Harps GAA Club in nearby Keash.

At his first trial in 2014 the father-of-three had denied the charges but was found guilty by a jury of 53 charges out of 54 of indecent assault.

Two more victims then came forward and he got a seven year prison sentence for those offences.

His sickening crimes include indecently assaulting a young boy during a match while he was umpiring an Under-12s game

He abused one young victim during a trip to Croke Park to watch an All-Ireland match.

He persuaded some of the parents of his victims into allowing them to stay at his home overnight

One 11-year-old boy was asked to look a county championship medal in his darkened bedroom and then sexually assaulted him.

McCormack then drove him home to have tea with the boy’s mother.

The victim told the court it has haunted him that he didn’t run home before he was indecently assaulted by the coach after being invited into his bedroom.

He also assaulted boys in his car, at a breakfast table in his kitchen and on fishing trips on lakes and rivers.

McCormack’s first trial lasted two and a half weeks and heard of his abuse of the children when he was aged between 39 and 44 during the 1980s.

One victim told how McCormack showed him textbooks detailing the reproductive systems of men and women.

The victim said: “He told me about the birds and the bees, how everything works, how people make love.”

McCormack was also accused of indecent assault against one victim when he was aged 10 at a football pitch near his home and when he was 11 after they had been to Croke Park.

One of the victims told of being sexually abused several times as a 12-year-old before two Croke Park games in 1983.

He was indecently assaulted at the coach’s home before the Donegal-Galway semi-final and before the All-Ireland final between Dublin and Galway.

“I would have to stay over at his house the night before because he wanted to get to Mass before going on the train.,” the victim told the court.

He added before the semi-final the coach arrived in a bedroom naked and climbed into the bed beside him saying: “Don’t be shy”.

Vile McCormack then indecently assaulted him a number of times during the night.

After two more victims came forward following the publicity surrounding his first trial two more victims came forward and made statements about abuse in the 1970s.

As a result he was back in the dock again in 2017 for more offences for which he got seven years.

Sentencing him to consecutive terms totalling seven years, Judge Martin Nolan said that by his own conservative estimate, McCormack had abused one of the victims in this case between 60 and 100 times.

The victim described the abuse as “a ritual”.

However sick paedo McCormick won his appeal against the length of his sentence and it was reduced in total from seven to four years.

During the appeal hearing it was argued that McCormack would have been 82 when released that that it was an error to impose such a sentence on a man of his age.

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