November 2000

GAA official jailed for sex offences

A retired schoolteacher who was formerly the most powerful figure in the Gaelic Athletics Association in Northern Ireland has been jailed for three years for sex offences.

Michael Feeney was forced to resign his post as Secretary of the Ulster GAA after being charged with sexually abusing 11 children.

The pervert former teacher terrorised the children of Ballybay, Co Monaghan, and orchestrated a campaign of silent fear over four decades.

The judge at Monaghan court in the Republic of Ireland said Feeney had inflicted great pain and suffering on his victims over a 20-year period.

A father of seven children, Mr Feeney is from Ballybay in County Monaghan.

He was secretary of the Ulster Provincial Council,which covers Northern Ireland and the three border counties, for a number of years.

The first child sex abuse allegation was made against him four years ago.

In a statement, the GAA said it had debarred Feeney from all GAA activities once it became aware of the allegations in May 1997. This included suspending him from his position as secretary to the provincial council.

However, he did appear in the VIP box during the Ulster Football Final at Clones later that year when Cavan won the title.

The association extended its heartfelt sympathy to the victims but pointed out that “the offences never had any connection with the GAA although some of the victims were members of it”.