Belfast Telegraph

Top GAA club to meet gardai in teen sex probe

By Shane Hickey

Management at a leading GAA club will meet gardai today after a complaint of statutory rape was made against a prominent journalist who previously mentored one of its under-age teams.

St Vincent's GAA football and camogie club, based in Marino in Dublin, last night issued a statement distancing itself from the sports journalist.

The journalist had been both a member of St Vincent's and a mentor to an under-age team at the club.

Gardai are investigating claims that he had sex with an under-age girl. She has been interviewed by gardai about the complaint.

The probe was launched three weeks ago after the writer's daughter allegedly discovered text messages he had sent to the girl on an old mobile phone.

It is believed the teenager at the centre of the issue was not a member of St Vincent's.

The writer was a high-profile member of the club up until the end of last year, when his membership lapsed.

He had been the mentor to a team at St Vincent's until September of last year, but did not mentor another team after that.

A mentor is involved in the management of teams -- organising trips away and training sessions -- but is separate from a coach.

Last night, a statement from the club said it "notes with grave concern" the media coverage of the allegations.

"The person named in recent reports is not a mentor in any capacity in St Vincent's club," the statement said.

"Over the past week, we have been in touch with the authorities, who have confirmed to us that no complaint in this matter has been received from within this club.

"We have been advised that the authorities may wish to speak with the club as part of their investigations and we will be assisting them in doing so while respecting also the rights and needs of the members."

The journalist at the centre of the allegations is receiving medical care and has not yet been interviewed by gardai.

St Vincent's said it took the welfare of its members "very seriously" and had always applied the GAA code of conduct for children's welfare.

All coaches and mentors in its under-age section have to pass complete garda vetting.

"There is not now and never will be a place for any risk to any child in St Vincent's," the statement said.

It is understood the writer's daughter found texts while putting a new SIM card into the phone he had given her.

The journalist had allegedly given the phone to the child, who was collecting them to donate to a charity.

It is understood she showed the messages to other family members. They then handed the phone over to gardai.

Belfast Telegraph

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