GAA club’s Heffron statement ‘falls short’

Peadar Heffron (right) told Joe Brolly of his experience at Kickhams Creggan GAC

The GAA club that broke its silence after it came under fire for its treatment of a former player who joined the police, has been further criticised for the content of its statement.

Peadar Heffron – who lost a leg in a dissident under-car bomb in 2010 – said in an article in the Sunday Independent he was shunned by his home town club Kickhams Creggan after signing up to the PSNI.

He said he was “fairly certain” former team-mates passed his details to those behind the bomb.

After a week of pressure to comment on the claims, Kickhams Creggan GAC issued a statement on Saturday denying any of its members had a role in the attack.

GAA pundit Joe Brolly, who conducted the original interview with Mr Heffron, said the Randalstown club’s statement does not address the issue of the club’s boycott of the former PSNI officer which was the “crux” of the story.

The statement was also criticised by the DUP’s Paul Girvan as it does not include an apology.

In this weekend’s Sunday Independent, Mr Brolly said: “The statement speaks of the great work done by the club in the community over the years, which is not in dispute.

“It goes on to say that some club officials went to the family home after the attack (as described by Peadar in the original story) then concludes by saying that any insinuation that members were in any way involved in assisting the attack on Peadar is untrue.

“How can they be certain that this is the case, and why did they not convey this to Paedar at some stage over the past seven years?”

He added: “But the crux of the thing, the boycott, the cruelty over 10 long weeks when Peadar tried to cling on, and the way he was finally intimidated out of the club, is ignored.”

DUP South Antrim MP Mr Girvan welcomed the fact the club had broken its silence, but added: “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.

“There is no comfort for any member of Kickhams Creggan GAC thinking of applying to join the police in this statement.

“Given that this GAA club has such influence with young people, it must now issue a clear statement indicating any member wishing to join the PSNI will be fully supported.”

The MP added: “The club may feel their statement closes this matter, but it falls short of what is required in clarifying the club’s position.”

Kickhams Creggan GAC was contacted by the News Letter for a response to the points raised in the criticism of its statement.

The club had not responded at the time of writing.

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