Loyalist paramilitaries are suspected of being behind a petrol bomb attack at the home of a 20-year-old County Antrim man.
Gary Kelly, who plays bowls for Ireland, also had a threatening note posted through the letterbox of his home in Ballymoney during the overnight attack.
Mr Kelly was watching television in his bedroom at around 1am yesterday when he heard a smashing sound outside his Queen Street home.
“I looked out and saw my car on fire. Five seconds earlier I thought I heard our letterbox go but I didn’t pay much attention as usually drunks going past bang your window or letterbox,” he said.
Mr Kelly said a piece of paper with the words ‘your republican connections will not go unnoticed’ printed on it had been left for him but he did not understand why as he has no links to republicanism. He said he believed the attack was sectarian.
“I can’t get my head around it at all. It seems that way, because I’m a Catholic living in Ballymoney and working in a Catholic school as a classroom assistant,” Mr Kelly said.
“I’ve never had any trouble. My mother has been living in the same house for 48 years.”
Mr Kelly’s car was destroyed in the blaze and he said his family was still in shock that they had been targeted.
“We’re a quiet family and keep ourselves to ourselves. We don’t want hassle and never had any before this and can’t understand why we have been targeted. It’s unfair as we are genuine good people and feel we are paying for something we don’t know about.”
Sinn Fein North Antrim assembly member Daithi McKay said he was concerned that loyalist paramilitaries could have been involved in recent attacks in the area.
“This was an absolutely disgraceful attack in Ballymoney and I know that people from across the community in this town will condemn it outright,” he said.
“People are being targeted here for the solitary reason that they are Catholic. Nothing more. The fact that petrol bombs are being used demonstrates the seriousness of the situation.”
Mr McKay said some of the people who have been targeted in recent months believe the UDA was involved.
“I believe that the PSNI should be doing more to pursue this line of enquiry and bring to book those responsible for this campaign,” he said.