Celtic FC voice ‘regret and sorrow’ for victims of paedophile

Celtic Football Club has expressed its “regret and sorrow” to those affected by the actions of paedophile James McCafferty.

McCafferty, a former kitman who was also a youth coach, was last week jailed for more than six years after admitting a string of historical sexual offences against young boys.

The 73-year-old, of Lisburn, Northern Ireland, pleaded guilty to a series of charges related to paedophile activity against 10 victims, which took place over several decades.

In a statement issued on Friday afternoon, Celtic said it offers its “sincere sympathy” to the young people affected, and their families.

However, a lawyer representing several McCafferty survivors said the statement was not an apology and condemned the timing of its release, 10 days after the court case, as “cynical in the extreme”.

We offer our sincere sympathy to those young people, their families and all those involved.

In the statement, the football club said: “James McCafferty has pled guilty to offences he committed against young people between 1972 and 1996.

“Celtic Football Club wishes to express its regret and sorrow to those young people.

“McCafferty, who was employed by Celtic Football Club in the mid 1990s, committed these acts many years ago across a number of organisations, and all those who have come forward to report abuse and to give evidence deserve enormous praise for the courage they have shown.

“We offer our sincere sympathy to those young people, their families and all those involved.”

The club said that when the allegations emerged in 2016, it encouraged any individuals involved to report all information to the police.

“Celtic Football Club takes all of its responsibilities seriously, stands by its responsibilities and will continue to do so,” the statement continued.

“The abuse of children has affected many areas of society, including football clubs, sports clubs, youth organisations, educational institutions and religious bodies across Britain.

“Celtic Football Club strongly believes that children and young people involved in football have the right to protection from all forms of harm and abuse and is committed to ensuring this and to promoting their wellbeing through continued cooperation with our children and young people, parents and carers and the relevant authorities.

“Celtic Football Club was the first club in Scotland to appoint a safeguarding officer, responsible for developing our policies for the protection of young people, and monitoring and reviewing our procedures to ensure they continue to reflect best practice.”

I would also describe the timing of this release as cynical in the extreme.

Patrick McGuire, a partner at Thompsons Solicitors Scotland, who represents some abuse survivors, said: “It would be charitable to Celtic to describe this as too little too late.

“There is no apology. There is no acknowledgement of Celtic’s failures.”

He continued: “I would also describe the timing of this release as cynical in the extreme.

“The conviction and sentencing of McCafferty was over a week ago.

“To put this statement out late on a Friday afternoon before a holiday weekend on the day the Prime Minister resigns and before a potential Treble Treble weekend for the club is appalling.”

He added: “Every member of the Celtic board should hang their heads in shame.”

The High Court in Edinburgh heard on May 14 that McCafferty abused his position of power and used his intimidating physique to carry out a campaign of “sexual depravity” against budding footballers.

The incidents took place in several locations across Scotland – including team showers, hotel rooms and minibuses – over several decades from the 1970s onwards.

Former professional footballers were among the complainers, the court heard.

- Press Association

More on this topic

Leigh Griffiths makes comeback as Celtic cruise past SarajevoLeigh Griffiths makes comeback as Celtic cruise past Sarajevo

Celtic boss Neil Lennon hoping to reap rewards of Champions League experienceCeltic boss Neil Lennon hoping to reap rewards of Champions League experience

Lennon to speak to Ntcham about his ‘mindset’ after transfer commentsLennon to speak to Ntcham about his ‘mindset’ after transfer comments

Celtic sign promising Ireland U19 star Luca ConnellCeltic sign promising Ireland U19 star Luca Connell

More in this Section

May urges successor to seek Brexit agreement as fears of no-deal growMay urges successor to seek Brexit agreement as fears of no-deal grow

May warns political discourse going ‘towards much darker place’ in final speech as British PMMay warns political discourse going ‘towards much darker place’ in final speech as British PM

Man convicted of murder of British teenager in GoaMan convicted of murder of British teenager in Goa

Mexican drug lord El Chapo sentenced to life in US prisonMexican drug lord El Chapo sentenced to life in US prison


Lifestyle

Christy Collard and Robin O’Donovan are parents to six children, but sustainability is still a cornerstone of their busy lives in west Cork.The family that composts together stays together

Ron Howard was happy to let the spirit of Luciano Pavarotti shine through in his documentary on the great tenor, writes Laura Harding.Hitting the right note with new Luciano Pavarotti documentary

Prevention is so much better than cure, says Fiann Ó Nualláin, who offers gardeners timely advice on guarding face and body against those potentially damaging ultra-violet rays this season and beyond.Gardening: Be skincare-savvy for summer

It's never been more important to choose flowers and trees according to their environmental needs, says Peter DowdallIn these times of climate change, choose plants to weather all conditions

More From The Irish Examiner