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GAA club urged to apologise to Peadar Heffron after it finally breaks silence

By Angela Rainey

A Co Antrim GAA club has been urged by an MP to apologise to a former player left disabled by a dissident car bomb after joining the PSNI.

The DUP's Paul Girvan said that although the club had now responded to allegations Peadar Heffron was intimidated out of the club due to his career choice, it had still failed to say sorry for the alleged harassment he suffered.

Kickhams Creggan GAC in Randalstown came under fire last week following claims from Mr Heffron, who said joining the new police service resulted in him being ostracised by the club despite being a member since he was a child.

He entered the force in 2002, and was badly injured in a booby-trap car bomb in 2010, being confined to a wheelchair.

In an interview with well-known GAA pundit Joe Brolly in the Sunday Independent, Mr Heffron said that when he announced he was joining the PSNI he was shunned at the club.

He claimed he was isolated during training sessions, and dissidents handed out flyers in the dressing room warning players not to join the police.

He also alleged that while he was in a coma following the bomb attack club officials visited his parents, but only in "a personal capacity".

South Antrim MP Mr Girvan claimed the club had failed on a "basic" level for its lack of apology and support for players joining the PSNI.

He said: "We want to live in a society where everyone finds acts of terror like that faced by Peadar Heffron unacceptable and without justification. Indeed, in recent times there are those who have made much progress on that road.

"It is welcome that the club has broken its silence of the last week and finally publicly condemned the attack on one of its members, Peadar Heffron. I am disappointed that the club has failed in another basic expression when wrong is done - that of saying sorry.

"Not one word of the statement issued by the club confers any form of apology to Peadar for any bullying, ostracism and intimidation suffered within the confines of Kickhams Creggan GAC.

"People will draw their own conclusions from the failure of the club to address this issue.

"The club's statement also lacked clarity around what support exists for any current club member who may wish to serve the community within the ranks of the PSNI."

The MP urged the club to set out how it intended supporting players who wish to join the PSNI in the future.

Kickhams Creggan released a statement on Saturday in which it urged anyone with information about the bombing that injured Mr Heffron to contact police.

It said: "Kickhams Creggan wishes to make clear that we condemn the attempted murder of Peadar Heffron unequivocally and without any ambiguity."

It branded the murder bid as a "despicable attack", adding that it categorically denied "the dangerous insinuations that members of Kickhams Creggan club acquiesced or played an active role in targeting or attempting to murder Peadar Heffron".

Mr Brolly described the statement was "pathetic".

"An apology would be a start," he said.

"Perhaps the club could establish a scholarship in Peadar's name.

"There ought to be some recognition of their terrible disloyalty and cruelty to a decent human being.

"A club delegation should ask to go meet him, to apologise and listen. They could absorb his terrible hurt, accept their treachery and cowardice, and take it from there."

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