'A lot of kids look up to these guys... it’s just an awful shame' - Ballyragget priest describes 'scar' on the community
The local parish priest has described the Ballyragget GAA lewd photo controversy as "an awful shame".
Fr Tommy Murphy, of St Patrick’s Church in Ballyragget, Co Kilkenny, said the viral incident was demeaning of women.
He also said "a lot of kids" would look up to the team and the incident "doesn't bring credit to anyone".
Fr Murphy said there is now a "scar" on the community as he condemned the behaviour of those involved.
His comments came as it emerged that a Garda investigation was under way after lewd images by some members of the club’s intermediate county championship-winning team were circulated online.
He told the Irish Independent: “Unfortunately, Ballyragget is now in the papers for all the wrong reasons. It leaves a scar on the community.
“I’m just sorry that it ever happened. What was a grand occasion has really been spoiled. I hope this is a lesson learned.”
A member of the St Patrick’s Ballyragget club was celebrating his 21st birthday on Tuesday night when the pictures were taken.
Photos and video from the incident – which occurred two days after the club had won the county final – have gone viral, and sparked an investigation by the Kilkenny County Board.
The photos show two naked women with the group of men. In one picture, a woman appears to be performing a sex act on a man.
“We are not sure if any crime was actually committed and if there was a crime, the investigation must establish what that crime was,” a senior source said last night.
However, no formal complaint has yet been made to investigating gardaí. A Garda sergeant and up to four officers are expected to work on the case in the coming days.
Gardaí will attempt to get statements from everyone who was in the pub at the time and will also trawl through social media as part of the probe.
Indecent exposure and solicitation for the purposes of prostitution are among the potential crimes that gardaí will investigate to see if they were committed at the event.
However, officers have not yet established that these or any criminal offences did happen on Tuesday and sources say the investigation has been put in place to “establish all the facts”.
St Patrick’s Ballyragget is due to play Kildare club Ardclough in the Leinster Intermediate championship on November 5.
Fr Murphy continued: “It was Wednesday before I heard anything at all about it.
“I’d be very disappointed for the families of the people involved. The families wouldn’t be condoning that kind of stuff – it’s just an awful pity.
“Everyone knows each other around here, but God knows who was in the pub that night.
“I know the lads on the team very well. Of course, it’s demeaning for women – you hate to see it in any sphere, no matter who’s involved. This shouldn’t be happening at all.