Poet accused of sexual exploitation is “like Wilde”

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An Irish poet accused of sexually exploiting young men in Nepal has given an interview.

Speaking on the Irish language station Raidio na Gaeltachta, Cathal O’Searcaigh said he was the victim of a biased documentary, but admitted sexual contact with some of the young men he was finanically aiding.

Speaking about the storm of criticism he has faced from the Irish media, he compared himself to Irish playwright Oscar Wilde.

Allegations about the poet’s relationship with 16-year-old boys surfaced after the screening of Fairytale of Kathmandu, a documentary on Mr Searcaigh’s charitable work in Nepal made by a former friend of his.

“I’m being portrayed as someone devilish and that I’m no good. I don’t think I’m that kind of person,” he told Raidio na Gaeltachta.

“It gave me hope to think about Wilde who went through a tough time.

“Wilde said we are all in the gutter but some of us are looking at stars.

“My hotel room is like my home in Nepal. My door is open.

“They were coming as my friends. It had nothing to do with sex. I didn’t sexually attack them.”

The poet, whose Irish language works are taught at Leaving Certificate, the equivalent of A Level, has been accused of the “sexual exploitation and grooming.”

The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) in Ireland ruled last week that his work will continue to be taught in schools.

Education Minister Mary Hanafin was advised by the council:

“On balance, the Council considered that its original position on the artistic merit and suitability for study of the work of Cathal O’Searcaigh should stand.”

The minister – who recently had to defend her actions in helping the poet secure a visa to Ireland for a Nepalese friend – said she was “shocked and appalled” by the allegations.