A bomb threat against a newly formed GAA club in East Belfast has been condemned by politicians.
East Belfast GAC was formed in May in the traditionally unionist east of the city, drawing its members from both sides of the community.
On Wednesday night players cut short training at Henry Jones playing fields in Castlereagh after the PSNI received a call that a ‘package’ had been left in the vicinity.
Two security alerts in Belfast tonight – one in Strandtown in East Belfast and the other at Mayfield Square in the Blacks Road area of West Belfast – are being linked with the initial threat.
North Belfast MP John Finucane condemned those behind the threat.
The former Antrim goalkeeper said: “Last night members of the newly formed East Belfast GAA club were made aware by police of a report that a package had been left on their playing fields during a training session.
“I condemn this despicable threat and attempt to intimidate people who wish to take part in Gaelic Games.
“The GAA is inclusive and it welcomes people from all backgrounds and none.
“The sporting fraternity must stand together against this attack on the growth of the GAA and on a society which is moving forward. It’s unacceptable.”
The club wishes to advise members of an incident that occurred during training last night. It is the club’s understanding that, during the course of training, the police received a call that a package had been left somewhere in the vicinity of the playing fields upon which our— EastBelfastGAA (@EastBelfastGAA) August 6, 2020
Local SDLP councillor Séamas De Faoite also hit out at those behind the threat.
“Since late yesterday evening I have been liaising between East Belfast GAA, the PSNI and Council officials to support players who were forced to leave Henry Jones playing fields due to a security alert,” he said.
“This threat is an appalling attempt to intimidate East Belfast GAA, who have brought people from across our community together in an appreciation of their sporting code.
“No team should feel threatened by those who seek to deny that the GAA can be just as much a part of the character and spirit of East Belfast as any other sport.
“I will continue to work with the club and the PSNI to do everything we can to assure the safety of players and supporters.”
In a statement East Belfast GAC said: “On the advice of the PSNI, once a live situation was identified, the police and club worked quickly to make people safe and help them disperse from the area calmly and efficiently.”