Investigative journalist Irvin Muchnick“He is basically hiding in plain sight.”  

As heard on Today with Sean O'Rourke

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In 1993 a Supreme Court ruling determined that former Irish swimming coach George Gibney could not face trial on 27 counts of indecent assault and unlawful carnal knowledge, because of the time that had elapsed since those allegations were made.

Not long after the judgement was handed down, George Gibney relocated to America, where he currently resides.

Sports journalist and investigative reporter Irvin Muchnick has doggedly pursued the deportation of Gibney.  In Dublin to meet other campaigners, Irvin joined Seán O’Rourke in studio to discuss the case.

Seán began by asking him why he thought 2019 might signal some significant developments in the case.

“Widespread scandals in Olympic sport programmes in the United States have come to light through the US gymnastics scandal and there are federal investigations of racketeering, insurance fraud involving USA swimming, tae kwan do and other groups. Those are the reasons that I think 2019 is going to be the year of reckoning for George Gibney.”

Irvin went on to tell Seán he believes Gibney was attempting to inoculate himself against extradition by applying for US citizenship in 2010. He failed to disclose the allegations that had been made against him in the past. His application was denied.

“At the same time, another federal agency in the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, put out a letter that said he could not be removed from the country because he had never been convicted. So this is the conundrum that we face this year.”

Now living in America for more than 25 years, Seán wondered what kind of life George Gibney was living there. Irvin confirmed that he coached swimming briefly. When news of the accusations against him in Ireland surfaced in Colorado in 1995, he stopped. He has had a number of different jobs, and is believed to be living in Florida at the moment.

“He is basically hiding in plain sight.”

Irvin believes that communication between An Garda Síochána and American law enforcement is vital to progress the case. He believes that at present, each is waiting for the other to act. The authority that initiates proceedings will determine whether extradition or deportation is sought. Seán asked Irvin whether a request for George Gibney’s extradition had been made by Irish authorities as yet?

 “I think we know pretty clearly there is not one as yet, however, in 2015 TD Maureen O’Sullivan did ask the Director of Public Prosecutions to look at this again and I understand that matter is ongoing.”

Given limited progress in recent years, Seán wondered why Irvin continued to pursue this story?

 “This is about a system of institutions in global sport that enable bad actors… to do what they do. It’s so important to hold accountable Swim Ireland, USA Swimming, most especially the American Swimming Coaches Association, I hope that we can work together on that, moving forward to clean up sports.”

You can listen to the interview with Irvin Muchnick in full on Today with Seán O’Rourke here.

© The Listener 2019

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