Christmas bomb attempt at GAA club
Christmas bomb attempt at GAA club

A bomb discovered on Christmas Eve close to an Armagh Gaelic club could have been picked up by children who regularly use the area.

Pearse Og Gaelic Athletics Club chairman Gerry Davidson said the device was found around 100 yards from the club.

“Thank God it was cleared. It’s always a worry that if it hadn’t been found it could have gone off,” he said.

Sinn Féin councillor Cathy Rafferty described the find as “sinister”.

“The device was found on banks behind the clubhouse and a lot of young people would go down those banks as a shortcut when going to school or to the club... any of them could have picked it up,’’ she said.

“There was absolutely no thought given to the young people who live in the area and the young people who go to the club.”

The DUP and SDLP also condemned the incident.

In a separate development, Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness said armed republican and loyalist groups should not “delude themselves” that they are capable of destabilising the political process.

The Deputy First Minister said of the groups: “We have to be concerned -- not for the overall political process, or their ability to destroy that. I think we are past that stage.

“The concern has to reside in the damage that these people can do to human beings, in a situation where the overwhelming number of people on this island have declared their support for the peace process and for political leaders who want to work in partnership with each other.”

“It appears they emanate from some shady loyalist grouping in the background, similarly on the nationalist/republican side, it is clear there are a very tiny number of groups which are very poorly supported. They are really only micro groups, who are determined to try and damage the process,” said Mr McGuinness.

“These are people who think it’s sensible, in the context of political agreement, to try and plunge the community back into conflict.

“These are people who appear to want to see tens of thousands of British soldiers back... who believe that by attacking policemen they will further some sort of cause, which of course we all know has no prospect whatsoever of success,” he said.

“I think the message has to be clear that as the political institutions of the Good Friday Agreement get stronger, then there is no doubt whatsoever that the groups that stand in opposition to that will eventually wither on the vine.”

He also hit out at unionist politicians opposed to republicans sharing power -- warning they were rejecting the common sense of building a shared future.


He said unionist critics of the peace process over recent years such as Bob McCartney and Jim Allister - both barristers - were regarded as educated men, but Mr McGuinness said such opponents failed to see what he described as the common sense at the heart of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

“I know that there are people within the extremes of loyalism and unionism who will never forgive me or others within the Sinn Féin leadership for opposing the British army or the RUC or the British Government or unionism in the past.

“But I think that people have had an opportunity to look at the contribution that Gerry Adams and I and all our leaders of Sinn Féin have made to the process over many years.

“And many, many people, I think, believe that we are working in good faith.”

He said he has been approached by members of the public from all political backgrounds, including loyalists, who have congratulated him on his role.

“And that tells me that ordinary people at grassroots level, the vast majority of them, are actually miles ahead of (the critics),” he said.

“What they (opponents of the peace deals) don’t realise is that an awful lot of ordinary people out there see the benefits of this process and desperately want it to succeed.”

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