A former Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) club official accused of sexually abusing 20 victims over almost three decades has pleaded guilty to what a judge described as a "catalogue of terrible offences" against vulnerable young men.

Thomas McKenna, 62, is a former treasurer of the Crossmaglen Rangers GAA club in Co Armagh.

McKenna had been due to go on trial facing 150 charges, including a number of rape and serious sexual assault and scores of indecent assault offences.

Several involved offences against children.

The offending was said to have taken place over almost 30 years from December 1989 until August of 2018 when he was arrested.

At Belfast Laganside Court this morning, McKenna was re-arraigned on the charges he faced.

It took almost 30 minutes for the charges to be put to him and he pleaded guilty to them all.

The judge told McKenna he would be "punished severely" when he is brought back for sentencing later in the year.

She also spoke directly to some of McKenna's victims who were watching proceedings via videolink.

"I praise your courage in coming forward to disclose these terrible crimes in very, very difficult circumstances.

"Today each of you is completely vindicated in the complaints you made against this man and I hope that vindication will bring you some peace of mind to those of you who still suffer greviously.

"Each of you has done a great public service in coming forward and I want to thank you for that."

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In June last year, McKenna had pleaded guilty to 23 charges but continued to deny 150 others.

Those he admitted to included 18 counts of voyeurism, four of indecent assault of a male and one of making an indecent picture of a child.

Earlier court appearances heard allegations that McKenna had taken pictures and videos of his victims without their permission.

At one point the police told a hearing they had recovered 43,000 images and 8,000 short video clips from several devices they had seized.

Crossmaglen Rangers said in a statement: "The thoughts of our club and our community are very much with the survivors/victims and families of sexual abuse as perpetrated by Mr McKenna, and we wish to respect their privacy and that of their families.

"The GAA will continue to engage with the victims and provide support services at this time."

GAA President Larry McCarthy said: "On my own behalf and on behalf of the GAA I wish to apologise to his (Thomas McKenna) many victims in Crossmaglen Rangers, and to their families, for the hurt that has been caused by this abuse and to assure them that the GAA will continue to support them on an on-going basis.

"It is a reminder to us all, if ever needed, that we can never be over vigilant in how we oversee and apply child safeguarding in our clubs.

"I want to acknowledge and express my admiration to the victims for the courage they have shown in coming forward and cooperating with our GAA safeguarding personnel in reporting the initial allegations to the statutory authorities.

"I would also urge any person who may have safeguarding concerns about these terrible crimes, or other safeguarding matters in the GAA, to contact the relevant statutory authorities or the GAA at nationalchildrensoffice@gaa.ie or at safeguarding.ulster@gaa.ie."