Sectarian attack on youth team

 

POLITICIANS AND football officials have deplored a sectarian attack on a Dublin soccer club competing in the Milk Cup in Coleraine, Co Derry, a major international youth tournament that has been running since 1983.

Bricks, bottles and beer cans were hurled at a block of flats where Crumlin United's youth team was staying at Cromore Court near a loyalist estate in Coleraine on Monday night. One man was arrested and was being questioned by police yesterday.

The players, mostly aged 14 and 15, and their officials were subjected to sectarian taunts by a gang outside the flats. At least one of the windows was smashed with a large brick during the incident.

Club official Paul Hammond said many of the players were "very frightened" by the incident. He said Crumlin United, previous winners of the cup, were going to remain in the tournament because "football has to be the winner and that's what it's all about".

Mr Hammond told the BBC that the response from the Milk Cup organisers and other clubs was very positive and supportive.

Crumlin United and another Dublin club, Cherry Orchard, moved to new accommodation as a result of the attack. The PSNI said it was investigating the incident.

Local SDLP Assembly member John Dallat said the attack was disgusting. He said the incident should motivate people to challenge the growing incidence of "hate crime" in the Coleraine area.

Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey said Crumlin United and Cherry Orchard had been travelling to Coleraine for the Milk Cup through the darkest days of the Troubles and the incident disgusted him.