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22 May 1997 Edition

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UVF threats to GAA

By Mick Naughton.

A call to the Ballyshannon office of the Donegal Democrat last Wednesday afternoon by someone claiming to represent the mid-Ulster Brigade of the UVF has been taken seriously by the Garda in Donegal despite the absence of a recognised codeword. A Garda spokesperson said: ``At the moment we are simply aware that a phone call was made to the Democrat office and we are treating the content of that call as serious.''

The caller made several spurious claims about murdered GAA man Sean Brown, all of which were without foundation, with one being specifically repudiated by the Residents Association in Bellaghy. In a statement extending sympathy to the Brown family the Bellaghy Residents Association said Mr Brown had not been involved in rerouting `loyal order' parades in the Co Derry village and any belated attempt at linking his murder with those incidents was without any foundation.

The male caller to the Donegal Democrat also warned that GAA members on both side of the border would be targeted should future parades be rerouted.

When told of the statement Donegal GAA Chair Pat Conaghan declined to comment but did reiterate both his own sympathy and that of the Donegal GAA fraternity to the family of Sean Brown.

Sinn Fein MP for Mid-Ulster Martin McGuinness said he was aware of the distress this latest development had caused to the Brown family and criticised the media for using the term `tit-for-tat' to describe the latest loyalist killings.

``The UVF has a long history of targeting members of the GAA and other organisations identified with Irish nationalism. They need no excuse other than blind bigotry for carrying out their campaign of sectarian murder. The question which must be answered is - is this what William McCrea meant when, after losing the seat, he said, `The voters of Mid-Ulster will reap a bitter harvest for this result today'?''
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