GAA pitch attacked
GAA pitch attacked


A Belfast City councillor has condemned the latest hate crime at an east Belfast GAA pitch, saying it’s time for those intent on waging a “campaign of hate” to move on.

Oil was poured by loyalists over goal mouths at Henry Jones Playing Fields in Castlereagh last month.

SDLP councillor Séamas de Faoite said all of the elected parties in east Belfast have endorsed the inclusion of GAA facilities at Henry Jones and all of them supported the additional security measures now needed at the site.

“It’s time for the small number of individuals who are perpetrating this campaign of hatred to move on. They surely have better things to be doing with their time than trying to resist the inclusion of GAA at Henry Jones.

“The community is quite likely at this stage sick of it, sick of the destruction being caused.”

A lot of work has gone into addressing the lack of pitches for all sports, Mr de Faoite explained.

He concluded: “The vast majority of people in east Belfast have no issue with GAA pitches at Henry Jones.

“It’s a very small number of people who aren’t connected to any organisations, who aren’t acting on behalf of anybody, they’ve just taken it upon themselves to wage a campaign of hate and it’s time for them to move on.”

Sinn Féin representative Deirdre Hargey described the incident as “disgusting”.

The “barbaric attack on the Henry Jones playing fields, used by East Belfast GAA, is disgusting and should be condemned by all across society,” the South Belfast Assembly member said.

“Disgraceful incidents like this do not represent the vast majority of people here who are focused on moving forward and on the future.

“All sporting organisations must stand together against these reckless attacks on these pitches and the clear attempt to stop the growth of Gaelic games in this area. It must stop.

“I am calling on all local political representatives to make to clear that there is no place for intimidation and that attacks on anyone playing sport must end now.”

Since the East Belfast GAA club was founded in May 2020, there have been several attacks and security alerts at the pitches used by the team.

In late August, criminal damage was caused to the goal posts at the pitch when nets were set on fire and destroyed.

In May 2023 a bomb alert forced officials to close the pitches for a period of time. Following extensive searches, it turned out to be a hoax.

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