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I DIDN'T COERCE ANYONE INTO SEX; Gay poet tells of regret at TV show ..but insists he did nothing wrong.

Byline: MICHELLE O'KEEFFE

SHAMED poet Cathal O Searcaigh insisted yesterday he did nothing wrong despite admitting in a documentary he had sex with young men in Nepal.

The gay writer was branded a sex tourist after it emerged he was sleeping with vulnerable youths in the controversial show Fairytale of Kathmandu.

But O Searcaigh, 53, said the relationships he had with young men were acceptable.

He added: "I am very open about my sexuality and always have been.

"If I was afraid that there was anything in my life I certainly wouldn't allow a documentary film maker to come to Nepal with me.

"As my life was in Nepal I had sex with people on a consensual basis, not with very many people.

"My relationship with most people is of a tender, affectionate nature rather than a sexual nature. I was not coercing anybody into sex.

"Of course I have a responsibility as an adult and I am very careful. I am compassionate and caring about people.

"Whatever relationships I had with people were entirely acceptable to me and to them."

O Searcaigh was exposed by film-maker Neasa Ni Chianain in her documenary which revealed the writer had sexual relationships with several young men in Nepal. The film did not allege that any of the teenagers were under 16 - the age of consent in Nepal - but there were concerns the poet might have been exploiting inexperienced young men.

He has consistently claimed he did not engage in any illegal acts as the young men were over the legal age of consent. O Searcaigh - whose poems have featured in Leaving Cert exams - said he wished he had never agreed to doing the documentary.

He added: "I regret being involved in that film, it was a betrayal of trust. "I hoped it would be a celebration of Nepal.

"This sort of documentary requires absolute trust and if the film-maker had problems with me she should have addressed those problems before she took out her camera to interview me."

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DOCUMENTARY Poet Cathal O Searcaigh
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Aug 13, 2009
Words:343
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