Thursday 17 January 2019

'There's appropriate and inappropriate... and that was inappropriate' - Priest on Ballyragget scandal

An investigation is underway
An investigation is underway

Robin Schiller and Ian Begley

A priest has weighed in on the controversy surrounding a GAA championship club after lewd images circulated online, describing their celebrations as "totally inappropriate".

Father Tommy Murphy of St Patrick's Church in Kilkenny said: "I was delighted they won the match, but I was very disappointed with the carry on afterwards. It doesn't bring credit to anyone. 

"There are a lot of kids who look up to these guys and it's just an awful shame. They're old enough to know the consequences of social media. 

"There's appropriate celebrations and inappropriate celebrations and that was totally inappropriate."

It emerged today that a garda investigation is underway after lewd images from an event attended by some members of a championship GAA team were circulated online.

Photos and video from the incident - which occurred two days after the club 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.

"The matter is currently under investigation," a garda spokesman confirmed

A member of the Ballyraggert club was celebrating his 21st birthday on Tuesday night when the pictures were taken.

It is understood that only a small number of people from the winning team attended the event.

A source close to the team said they were devastated by what occurred.

They were also keen to stress that not all members of the team were there, just a "smaller group of six to seven members".

"The team won the championship on Sunday and it was a huge victory for the town. Afterwards, they went for dinner in a nearby hotel where their manager paid tribute to all their efforts over the last five years.

"They then returned to the square in Ballyragget for an impromptu homecoming and everybody was celebrating," they said.

The celebrations continued in local bar Fitzpatrick's, where the cup was brought.

"But most people were back in work on Tuesday, after taking the Monday off, and the celebrations were over," they said.

"However, a small group continued celebrating into Tuesday as it was the young man's 21st birthday. The cup remained in the pub since the Sunday night and that is why it featured in the pictures. This was not a GAA event, or an event that was linked to Ballyragget GAA club in any way."

It's understood another man - who is not associated with the club - was drinking with the team mates on Tuesday.

He decided to hire two female strippers for the young man's birthday celebrations, unknown to the GAA players.

"The first the lads knew of the strippers was when they turned up to the pub," they said.

"By that stage, the young man and the team mates were very drunk. Camera phones were taken out, and dozens of pictures and videos were taken. Some of these were then posted onto Snapchat.

"On Wednesday morning, all hell broke loose, because people took screengrabs from Snapchat and downloaded the videos.

"These then went viral through a wide number of different WhatsApp groups. It is not the case that somebody inadvertently uploaded the footage to the wrong WhatsApp group," the source said.

"The majority of the team celebrated responsibly on the Sunday night, and had nothing to do with the events on Tuesday."

The young man at the centre of the scandal is described as coming from a "very respectable family" and is well liked.

Witnesses say he was very drunk on the night in question, and was perhaps unaware he was being photographed.

Meanwhile, a charity that works with women affected by prostitution and sexual exploitation has raised concerns with gardaí over the images.

Ruhama members are expected to meet with senior officers this morning over fears that a criminal act may have occurred if the females in question were paid for their services.

Ruth Breslin, a spokeswoman for Ruhama, slammed the incident, saying: "If these women were paid, these men were potentially breaking the law and they need to be made aware of this."

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