Belfast Telegraph

Sinn Fein's Kearney hits out at DUP critic over Heffron comments

By Rebecca Black

A Sinn Fein MLA and member of a GAA club which former police officer Peadar Heffron accused of ostracising him has said no-one should be marginalised for being in the PSNI.

Declan Kearney spoke out yesterday after DUP MLA Paul Girvan challenged him to publicly condemn the treatment of Mr Heffron.

Mr Heffron suffered life-changing injuries after a bomb planted by dissident republicans exploded under his car in Randalstown as he drove to work in January 2010.

He told the Sunday Independent that he still feels bitter that some of his team-mates at Creggan Kickhams GAC shunned him after he announced he planned to join the PSNI, and that the club did not support him.

"I'm a very bitter man. After the bomb, not even a letter from the club," Mr Heffron said.

Mr Girvan urged Mr Kearney to "unambiguously condemn" the treatment of Mr Heffron by Creggan Kickhams GAC.

Last night Mr Kearney accused the DUP of trying to create new controversy over what had happened to Mr Heffron.

"Peadar Heffron is a member of my extended family," he said.

"The brutal attack upon him was devastating for him and his immediate family, and a tragedy for the wider family circle. I shared my sympathy and support privately with Peadar Heffron and his own family at that time.

"Sinn Fein unequivocally condemned the attack on Peadar in 2010. That was my position then and now. No one should be marginalised due to membership of the PSNI.

"Many members of my own and wider family, including myself, have been associated with Kickhams GAC for decades.

"Kickhams GAC is a proud club which makes a huge contribution to the community and civic life of South Antrim.

"I find it regrettable that the DUP's Paul Girvan has cynically chosen to create a new controversy with this tragedy."

Creggan Kickhams GAC has made no response to Mr Heffron's comments.

Belfast Telegraph

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