Victim speaks of ongoing nightmares as former GAA coach jailed for dozens of indecent assaults on two boys

By Declan Brennan

A Sligo farmer has been jailed for seven years for dozens of indecent assaults on two young boys in the 1970s.

Former Gaelic football coach Ronan McCormack (75) went on to groom and abuse schoolboys as young as ten in the 1980s.

In 2014 he received a seven-year-and-ten-month jail sentence for these assaults.

Ronan McCormack pictured at Sligo Circuit Court in 2014. Photo: James Connolly / PicSell8

Earlier this year, a jury convicted him of 14 counts of indecently assaulting two boys who were aged between seven and 13.

McCormack, a father of three and farmer from Cloonloo, Co Sligo had pleaded not guilty to 26 counts of indecent assault of one boy on various locations on dates between June 1972 and March 1975. He also denied three counts of indecently assaulting a second boy on dates between August 1972 and December 1973.

The men came forward in 2014 after learning that McCormack had gone on to abuse other boys.

At Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, 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 abuse took place in the child’s family home, in the passenger seat of his car and in a local cinema. The victim described the abuse as “a ritual”.

Judge Nolan said this was a pattern of abuse over a long period of time. He said McCormack’s behaviour was gravely reprehensible and said he showed no regard for the well-being of his victims.

Reading his victim impact statement, the first victim told the court that he was eleven when the abuse began. He said the abuse affected his grades in school and “may have prevented me from reaching my full potential”.

It caused him to later become confused about his sexual orientation, which he found distressful. He said the abuse left him feeling soiled and like “damaged goods”.

He later suffered years of depression and missed career and relationship opportunities. He said he still suffers nightmares about the abuse and often wakes up with a strong smell of his abuser’s body odour.

The man said that for a long time he unfairly blamed his parents, but they were unaware and had been hoodwinked and manipulated by McCormack.

He said his own inaction in reporting McCormack “will prey on my mind for some time”.

“He has never offered an apology or shown any remorse,” the man said.

In August 1972, McCormack began abusing a second boy, who was known to the first victim. He molested this victim on three occasions.

In his statement, this man said that the abuse had left him with a lasting sense of insecurity. He said he feels extremely distrustful of people and of friendship because he believes people might have ulterior motives.

The court heard that at one point years after the abuse, the first man had gone to McCormack’s home to confront him about the abuse. He changed his mind after seeing a child’s swing which made him think that McCormack had moved on.

This was before the man’s later offending in the 1980s came to light with the 2014 conviction. The jury acquitted McCormack of 15 counts of indecently assaulting the older boy.

Kathleen Noctor BL, prosecuting, told the court that the maximum penalty for indecent assault of a male in the 1970s was two years but that this increased to five years where the convictions was a second conviction.

Judge Nolan imposed various sentences of two years and one year on five specific counts and ordered that the sentences run consecutively, giving a total prison sentence of seven years. He said he was taking all remaining counts into consideration and sentencing globally.


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