Sinn Fein’s national chairman Declan Kearney has declined to comment on the alleged lack of support for Peadar Heffron from his former GAA club, despite being himself a former player with that club.
The News Letter asked Mr Kearney about the matter yesterday following widespread coverage of Mr Heffron’s claim that fellow Gaelic players players shunned him after he declared he was joining the police.
Mr Heffron was blown up in a dissident republican under-car bomb terror attack in 2010, leaving him in a wheelchair.
In an interview in the Sunday Independent, he hit out at members of his former GAA club Creggan Kickhams, claiming they had ostracised him due to his choice of career.
Mr Kearney, who is related to Mr Heffron, is understood to be former player with Creggan Kickhams.
He has mentioned the club on Twitter in recent months, and an online video from June this year shows him apparently wearing the club’s kit as he declares that “the GAA is all about community, inclusion and participation”.
In addition, a number of independent news reports [The Guardian, Irish News, and Belfast Telegraph] have described Mr Heffron as being Declan Kearney’s cousin, whilst Sinn Fein-linked publication An Phoblacht said the two were “reported to be” cousins.
The News Letter asked SF what Mr Kearney thinks about his relative’s claims that he has been ostracised by fellow GAA members. The response, delivered in the name of a party spokesperson, not Mr Kearney, said: “Sinn Fein condemned the attack on Peadar Heffron. No-one should be marginalised because they choose a career in the PSNI.”
The News Letter has not readily been able to find reports from 2010 in which Mr Kearney gave his reaction to the attack on Mr Heffron. Yesterday we asked what Mr Kearney thought about the murder bid. Sinn Fein in its response above did not elaborate on that query.
Upon being contacted about Mr Heffron’s interview by the News Letter last night, Creggan Kickhams’ chairman Tony McCollum said “no comment” repeatedly. Asked if it would be worth contacting him at a later time for comment, he said: “No.”