Belfast Telegraph

Sunday Life

'Sickening' thugs threaten to kill man in Ulster pigeon fancying row

Bird fancier's son (8) is traumatised by incident

By John Toner

A double cancer survivor has spoken out after "sickening" thugs threatened to kill him in a pigeon fancying row.

Chairman of the Ulster Federation pigeon racing club Peter Martin, 56, said his young son had been left terrified after two men banged on his door on Tuesday evening and began shouting threats.

The pair told Mr Martin he would "get it" and would be "dealt with" if he did not pay £7,000 into a pigeon racing club bank account within 24 hours.

Speaking of his ordeal, Mr Martin said: "My child heard it, they says: 'Right, there's seven f******g grand missing out of the pigeon club account you have 24 hours to get it back in or you're f*****d'.

"I had no idea what they were talking about, they wouldn't tell me who they were or where they were from, they just kept saying if I didn't hand over the money within 24 hours I was getting it.

"My wife shouted at them from the bedroom window and they started panicking a bit and moved up the path. I had to go upstairs and get the child settled because he was in hysterics, he's only an eight-year-old.

"He was terrified all night, he just kept asking me who they were, why they were saying I stole money and what they meant about me having 24 hours."

The threats were made following a campaign of abuse and threats to Mr Martin on social media in which people were encouraged "bate his head in" with baseball bats after a row within the federation. The Ulster Federation is predominantly made up of pigeon racing clubs in Belfast and the Lagan Valley.

Mr Martin said after being elected chairman his plan was to open membership of the federation to more clubs across the province in order to balance the books, but this was rejected.

Following a row over pigeon crates a High Court writ was issued in May saying six of the 12 member clubs owed the federation £6,661 with each them to be billed individually by the court.

There is no suggestion Mr Martin is connected to the issue.

The Ulster Federation has suspended the clubs until the money is repaid.

The former plumber said the threats are not what concern him, but the £50,000 in birdage and equipment in his garden, which he described as his "salvation" following his double cancer fight.

He said: "They could go up in two minutes with a petrol bomb and I can't guarantee it won't. All because of pigeons, and this is meant to be a sport, all because of hooligans like this.

"That's my lifetime's work out there, the only thing that kept me going during the cancer was them pigeons. If I wasn't flying pigeons I'd be dead.

"When I came out of hospital that was my therapy, even though the doctors told me I shouldn't go near the birds.

"I'm in it all my days and I don't think a couple of bullies coming to the door should be putting me out of it.

"It's sickening, all for taking the chairman job and trying to improve the organisation. I've done nothing all my life but be good to other people and for what? To have threats like that made.

"It's not right. This is meant to be a sport, it's the height of nonsense to be having your life threatened over pigeon racing."

The 56-year-old has contacted the PSNI over the threats and intends to continue running the Ulster Federation despite the harassment.

Belfast Telegraph

Daily News Headlines Newsletter

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox.


From Belfast Telegraph