Maimed former PSNI Peader Heffron `very, very open' to Kickham's Creggan team mates making amends
FORMER PSNI officer Peadar Heffron, who was maimed by a dissident republican car bomb, would be "very, very open" to team mates he felt drove him out of his GAA club "making amends".
Mr Heffron, who lost his right leg when a bomb detonated under his car near his Co Antrim home in 2010, told last month how he said he was ostracised by Kickham's Creggan after joining the police.
He said "his boyhood friends never spoke to him again", he went unpicked for teams in training and was ignored when he took to the field as a `spare man'.
Mr Heffron said a club official told he was putting the club in a "very awkward position".
The Co Antrim club came under heavy criticism after the fluent Irish speaker recounted how, even after his accident, he was shunned by former team mates and officials, with two members who visited his parents' home stressing they were only there "in personal capacity".
Yesterday, his friend, former Derry All Ireland winner Joe Brolly, said, despite admitting he is "very bitter" over his treatment, Mr Heffron would be receptive to an overture from the club.
"Of course he would be," Mr Brolly said.
"He would be very, very open to that. He's very, very isolated. All he ever wanted to do was to play for Creggan and raise his children in Creggan and be part of the Creggan community."
The barrister and GAA pundit said the people "responsible for the ostracising - they know who they are - need to now recognise that and make amends".
On Wednesday, Ulster Council chief executive Brian McAvoy addressed the issue in a hard-hitting speech saying reports of Mr Heffron's treatment "sent a shiver through our spines".
"If any good can come out of this sorry tale, let it be that the message should be heard loud and cleat that any GAA member who wishes to consider a career in policing should do so free in the knowledge that it will not impact in any way on the membership of their local GAA club," he said.
"We at least owe that much to Peadar."
This was welcomed by the two main nationalist parties, both who endorse the PSNI.
Sinn Féin sports spokeswoman Sinéad Ennis said: "No one should be marginalised because they choose a career in the PSNI."
SDLP sports spokesman and former Armagh All Ireland winner Justin McNulty said Mr McAvoy's comments "are a welcome endorsement of the GAA's position that those who choose to join the PSNI and bravely serve their community should be supported".
"Irish men and women who join the police, whether it's An Garda Síochána or the PSNI, deserve respect and support from everyone," he said.
Mr Brolly said Mr McAvoy's statement was "very important", adding Kickham's Creggan "is an excellent club" and "people would give Creggan enormous credit if they had the courage to reach out to him".