Those who left a pipe bomb at a Co Antrim GAA club, causing scorch damage to an outside wall and a broken window, have been condemned as “deeply misguided”.
Police confirmed the suspicious object discovered at Clooney Gaels club on the Crosskey’s Road in Ahoghill on Saturday was the remains of “a crude pipe bomb type device”.
The device was taken away for further examination.
A club member found the device on Saturday morning, while a neighbour is understood to have heard two to three bangs at around 12.20am.
Ballymena councillor Declan O’Loan, who said he believed loyalists were behind the attack, added that it was lucky the incident did not have more serious consequences.
“I deplore this shocking and very serious incident,” he said. “This was a real bomb which damaged the building and could have caused serious injury or death to anyone handling it.
“I have no doubt that it was a deliberate attack on a GAA club from a loyalist source.
“It is disgraceful that those who work hard at this superb club which involves hundreds of young people in healthy sporting activities should be targeted in this way.
“There is a major inter-county match scheduled at the club tomorrow and that may be part of the reasoning behind this attack. I am sure that the GAA will not be deterred and the match will go ahead as planned.”
“I am sure that the GAA will not be deterred and the match will go ahead as planned.”
“Those who made and placed this bomb are deeply misguided. The GAA plays a proud and valued part in community life. It merits gratitude and support and not attack.
“Such an attack causes fear and apprehension and works against everything positive which I and others are working for locally.”
Sinn Fein MLA Daithí McKay said the attack was sectarian and must be condemned outright.
“I would encourage people and other clubs in the area to be extremely vigilant and anyone with information relating to the attack or any suspicious activity to bring it forward to the police,” he said.
“Such attacks belong in the past and no one wants to see any more of these attacks or any tit-for-tat attacks in response to this.”
Ulster GAA President Martin McAviney said the club will continue to work with all sections of the community to build good relations.
“Clooney Gaels GAA is a strong family focused volunteer sports Club that contributes significantly to its local community,” he said.
“An attack on any community facility in particular one that has a significant youth provision is shameful and reprehensible. The GAA is remains committed to the development of a shared future based on the principles of tolerance and respect and we will continue to engage in dialogue right across the community to enhance good relations and tolerance.
“Our officials have been fully briefed by the PSNI on this morning’s attack and we send the Club members our best wishes and offer them full our support during this difficult time.”