GAA bosses ‘let down’ family of murdered official
GAA bosses ‘let down’ family of murdered official


The Gaelic Athletics Association has been accused of ignoring the anniversary of the murder of one of their senior officials 20 years ago as they attempt to curry favour with the British establishment.

County Derry GAA official Sean Brown was abducted by a loyalist death squad as he locked the gates at the Bellaghy Wolfe Tones club 20 years ago yesterday.

He was taken to a country lane outside Randalstown in County Antrim where he was shot six times. His remains were found beside his burning car. No-one has ever been charged in connection with his death.

The Brown family and many nationalists suspect there was British Crown force collusion in the attack.

Speaking on the anniversary, Mr Brown’s son Damian said his family have been “greatly heartened” by support at GAA club level in Bellaghy and elsewhere -- but feel let down by the association’s leadership.

“In terms of the GAA we have had a lot of support from the grass roots level in the north, but active involvement from the GAA at provincial and national level would be at a minimum and has been lacking up to this point,” he said.

“We are disappointed at the level of support we have received.”

The GAA was criticised earlier this year when they invited the British Direct Ruler James Brokenshire to the Dr McKenna Cup final in Newry. In a public insult to the organisation, the Tory MP then refused to take his seat until after the Irish national anthem was played.

So far, Brokenshire has refused to make funds available for an inquest into the killing.

Mr Brown said it was “scandal” that a full inquest has yet to be held. To date the family has attended almost 30 coroner court hearings linked to the case. It is one of dozens being held up due to what is claimed to be a lack of resources.

The Brown family lawyer, Kevin Winters, said his case is one of several being considered in the High Court over delays.

“We have written to the coroner and families are still waiting,” he said.

“Yet again families have to resort to the courts to get access to information about the case.”

The PSNI police has also come in from criticism over delays in disclosing documents.

In 2015 chief constable George Hamilton was ordered to attend a coroner’s court to explain why police were refusing to hand over a report to Mr Brown’s family.

Paul O’Connor from the Pat Finucane Centre, which provides support to the Brown family, said delays in getting the inquest up and running are unacceptable.

“It is truly shocking that this family have had to attend so many hearings and they are having to fight for justice,” he said.

“This case could have been resolved many, many years ago had there been a proper investigation at the time.”

Mr O’Connor said questions still hang over the ability of the killers to drive Mr Brown past Toome police barrack, which was on the main road between Belfast and Derry and was regularly used by the Crown forces to set up checkpoints.

“For the family it’s one of the absolute key questions,” he said.

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