Tuesday 19 June 2018

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GAA trained 130,000 in child safety practices over seven years​

 

Max Woods of St Patricks National School, Glencullen is dejected after his sides loss to Donabate Portrane Educate Together in the Cumann na mBunsoil football finals in Croke Park. Picture: Gerry Mooney
Max Woods of St Patricks National School, Glencullen is dejected after his sides loss to Donabate Portrane Educate Together in the Cumann na mBunsoil football finals in Croke Park. Picture: Gerry Mooney

Martin Breheny​

The GAA have police-vetted and trained more than 130,000 people in child protection practices over the last seven years as part of their Code of Behaviour for those dealing with underage players.

A total of 19,200 have been trained this year alone.

"We have done more than any other agency or organisation in the country in the area of child protection," said Gearóid ó Maoilmhichíl, the GAA's national children's officer.

Protection of children playing sport has come into sharp focus following the jailing this week of sports writer Tom Humphries for sexually abusing a teenage girl at a time when he was involved in camogie coaching.

ó Maoilmhichíl said that the GAA were extremely conscious of their responsibilities and were working off best-practice models.

Volunteers coming aboard to help with underage teams must have police vetting and are also trained in child protection procedures and coaching.

ó Maoilmhichíl believes that all the recent attention will lead to even greater vigilance.

Volunteers

"There may be a fear out there that this (Humphries case) could impact on the role of volunteers in sport but I don't think it will. In fact, if it's properly addressed, it can help copperfasten child protection practices," he said.

"We have procedures that will stand the test of time. Still, if even one person infiltrates the system for their own devious purposes, it shows the need for increased vigilance."

A strong endorsement of the GAA's child protection protocols came from Fergus Finlay, chief executive of children's charity, Barnardos.

"I know as a matter of fact that nobody takes the business of child protection more seriously in Ireland than the GAA do.

"They do a sterling job in terms of trying to ensure that everyone involved in and around children makes it safe to be there. Of course, now and again, people slip through the net," he said on the 'Today with Seán O'Rourke' radio programme.

Irish Independent

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