Northern Ireland

Former GAA treasurer Thomas McKenna ordered to stand trial accused of sexually abusing 23 victims over almost 30 years

Former GAA official Thomas McKenna is to stand trial on a serious of sex abuse charges
Former GAA official Thomas McKenna is to stand trial on a serious of sex abuse charges

A FORMER GAA treasurer appeared in court today where he was ordered to stand trial accused of sexually abusing 23 male victims over almost 30 years.

In one of the largest sex cases in Northern Ireland legal history, 60-year-old Thomas McKenna appeared at Newry Magistrates Court by videolink from prison where he is on remand facing 173 charges.

He confirmed his personal details, that he was aware of the charges and that he did not object to a Preliminary Enquiry, the legal step necessary to elevate any case to the Crown Court.

A former postman and treasurer for Crossmaglen GAC McKenna, with an address given as c/o Maghaberry Prison, faces multiple charges of indecent and sexual assault; voyeurism; gross indecency with a child and making indecent images.

He is also charged with interfering with the mail as a postal operator.

Previous courts have heard claims that the “serious and complex investigation” involves alleged victims who say McKenna either sexually abused them or took photos and videos of them without their permission.

Police searches led to the recovery of devices said to contain 43,000 still images and 8,000 short video clips - some allegedly taken covertly.

Remanding McKenna back into custody, Deputy District Judge Laura Ievers scheduled the arraignment for April 27.