Sectarian attacks on GAA, supporters

A Gaelic sports clubhouse in south Down has been gutted in a loyalist arson attack.

The blaze, which destroyed the home of the St John’s club near Castlewellan, was discovered this Friday morning.

St John’s were due to take part in the Down junior Gaelic football final on Sunday.

Sinn Féin Assembly member Willie Clarke said it was a cowardly attack.

“The GAA is a community based organisation providing cultural, community and sporting outlets across Ireland, their work with our young people in particular is priceless,” he said.

“The sick-minded savages responsible for this attack clearly have no concept of community or indeed respect.”

Valuable trophies and equipment worth thousands of pounds were lost.

A number of Gaelic clubs, as well as halls owned by the Protestant Orange Order, have been subjected to paint and petrol bomb attacks in recent years.

On Wednesday, there was also a reported sectarian attack on the home of DUP councillor Glenn Oliver in Newtownhamilton, County Armagh.

Earlier this week, there was a surge of anti-Catholic attacks in County Tyrone following the county’s success in winning the All-Ireland football final at Dublin’s Croke Park.

Homes and vehicles displaying Tyrone colours were attacked on Sunday, while the team’s supporters were openly threatened by unionists in Cookstown’s Main Street.

As crowds gathered in the town to cheer their team, the PSNI police ordered pubs to close their doors. Members of the public were also ordered to remove items of clothing that displayed the Tyrone colours.

Local residents also expressed anger after the PSNI police allowed unionists to set up a barricade in the town, diverting traffic around the area.

Cookstown Sinn Féin councillor John McNamee said Sinn Féin would be “demanding answers about the way that the relevant authorities dealt with the situation”.

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© 2008 Irish Republican News