Northern Ireland

Larry McCarthy: ‘Worst day’ of GAA presidency listening to ‘harrowing’ Crossmaglen Rangers sexual abuse case

GAA president Larry McCarthy
Larry McCarthy

Larry McCarthy has said the “worst day” of his tenure as GAA president was listening to the litany of sexual abuse carried out by a former Crossmaglen Rangers treasurer against young boys.

During his final speech in office, Mr McCarthy described the evidence he had heard in court as “harrowing”.

Thomas McKenna was sentenced to 16 years in prison in April 2023 after pleading guilty to 162 charges against 23 victims over three decades.

Former GAA official Thomas McKenna
Former GAA official Thomas McKenna

Speaking on Saturday, Mr McCarthy said: “The worst day I had in my three years as Uachtarán was sitting in Court 14, in Laganside Court, listening to a litany of crimes perpetrated on members of our Association by, a now, former member.

“It is an experience that no Uachtarán has ever had, and I hope, and pray, that no other Uachtarán ever has.

“It was harrowing.”

Mr McCarthy added that he has the “highest regard for the victims of these crimes, particularly their bravery in coming forward to ensure that the perpetrator was put behind bars”.

“I acknowledge that there may also be victims who haven’t yet come forward and indeed may never do so, such is the trauma they have experienced,” he said.

“I also commend Crossmaglen Rangers for their dignity in handling what was, and continues to be, a very difficult circumstance for all concerned.

“All by way of emphasising the need for us to be ever vigilant when it comes to child protection.

“While we have a well-developed system of vetting, and I would hope that as leaders of the Association, every one of us who is a delegate to Congress is vetted, we need to be constantly vigilant in ensuring that everybody who participates in our Association does so in a safe environment.”