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Vandals break into GAA club and smash up defibrillator

By Cate McCurry

A lifesaving defibrillator has been destroyed during a burglary at a GAA club in Co Tyrone.

Vandals broke into Saint Macartan's GAA clubhouse in Trillick where the heart equipment was removed from the building and smashed.

It is the second GAA club in Tyrone to be targeted in the last week after St Enda's in Omagh was ransacked.

Thieves caused substantial damage to the clubrooms and took a number of items.

A spokeswoman for the Trillick club described the attack as malicious and called on the local community for help.

In a Facebook post, the club said: "A ground floor window to the ladies toilets was broken and the defibrillator/replacement pads were removed from the cabinet and totally destroyed.

"The malicious and abhorrent act is an attack on the club and community and will no doubt rally our members together to put things right."

The cost of an automated external defibrillator and its installation can be up to £2,000, and they are usually purchased through fundraising events.

Every GAA club in the county was given a defibrillator following the sudden death of Tyrone GAA star Cormac McAnallen. The county's senior team captain died after suffering a cardiac arrest.

The Cormac Trust was established in his memory to raise awareness of sudden cardiac deaths.

Sinn Fein's Barry McElduff was among those who hit out at the vandalism.

The West Tyrone Assembly candidate said: "Defibrillators literally provide a lifesaving service to the local community and this disgraceful vandalism has taken away that service.

"GAA clubs are the backbone of many communities, particularly in rural areas, and attacks and vandalism like this are attacks on the community."

The SDLP's Daniel McCrossan said he was left furious by the incident.

He said: "The idiots responsible targeted lifesaving equipment, a defibrillator which was badly damaged and thrown around the grounds.

"This was a reckless act of selfishness and thuggery - clearly taking no notice of the importance of such equipment to save someone's life at a very critical moment."

Stephen McCann, a Sinn Fein councillor for the Trillick area, said: "I totally condemn this sickening attack on St Macartan's.

"Not only is it an attack on the club, but an attack on our entire community."

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