Belfast Telegraph

Where is your honour? Joe Brolly rounds on Peadar Heffron's GAA club for silence over police officer's treatment

By Jonathan Bell

Former All-Ireland winner and GAA pundit Joe Brolly has called on Peadar Heffron's former club to make amends and apologise to the ex-police officer who was ostracised by some of the club after joining the police.

Mr Heffron spoke of being ostracised by some of this teammates at Creggan Kickhams GAC in Randalstown after joining the PSNI at the time of its formation in 2002. He was later the victim of a car bomb attack and was invalided out of the service.

After joining the new police service, Mr Heffron was boycotted by the club and fliers were passed around the dressing room targeting him.

While he was in a coma following the bomb attack, club officials visited his mother and father stressing they were only there in a personal capacity and in no way representing the club.

Creggan has refused to comment since the article was first published on Sunday.

All of us are guilty. All of us in the GAA in the six counties have been part of a culture of silence, of cowardice, of not doing the right thing. Joe Brolly

Writing for the first time since his Sunday Independent article, Joe Brolly criticised the club for hiding behind a "no comment" response. He said it could make amends by meeting with their former club member Peadar and apologise to him and establish a scholarship in his honour.

"They could absorb his terrible hurt, accept their treachery and cowardice and take it from there. Or they can take the coward's way out and stick with 'no comment'," he wrote in his Gaelic Life column.

"Ever since Sinn Fein and the SDLP did the peace deal and told us all that it was time for Catholics and nationalists and republicans to join the new force there has been a pretence that things are different.

Mr Brolly writes that the Ulster Council says "all the right things" but notes the small number of challenge matches between clubs and the PSNI.

After the attack on Mr Heffron and the murder of constable Ronan Kerr public figures "made all the right noises" before things went back to normal.

"Rather they went back to abnormal," he said.

"It is a long time since any of us stood on the streets chanting SSRUC. It is a long while since the IRA poured concrete over their weapons. Or since Martin McGuinness and Ian Paisley buried the biggest hatchet this country had ever seen."

Mr Brolly said that while Creggan - the club Peadar Heffron once belonged to - was heavily criticised in response to his article, he asked if any other club was better or would have acted differently.

"All of us are guilty. All of us in the GAA in the six counties have been part of a culture of silence, of cowardice, of not doing the right thing."

Creggan Kickhams GAC has continually refused to comment and given the chance by the Belfast Telegraph on Friday, a club spokesman said that remained the case.

Mr Brolly adds: "It is a fine club and has done great work over the past 20 years, but there is something rotten at the core they need to address now."

Quoting Edmund Burke's "all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing," Mr Brolly said it was not good enough for those involved to think that they didn't want to speak out to avoid rocking the boat.

"How good were these men? When the team manager didn't pick him... when local republicans handed out fliers targeting Peadar... when he had his arse blow off.... Did you apologise to him and explain you were too afraid to step out of line at the time but bitterly regret it now?

"Or did you stand in the pub like a sheep, saying nothing glad nobody mentioned it?

"You know who you are. where is your courage? Where is your honour?"

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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