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30/07/2001

Protestant youth gunned down by loyalists

Loyalist paramilitary group the Red Hand Defenders has claimed responsibility for the murder of a Protestant teenager outside a GAA club in Glengormley.

Gavin Brett was standing with a group of his friends outside St Enda’s GAA Club on the Hightown Road on Sunday 29 July, when a gunman opened fire on the youths at around 11.30pm, seriously wounding the boy. Another youth, said to be the victim’s best friend, was hit in the leg.

Despite the best efforts of the teenager’s father - a specialist paramedic who helped treat the injured following the Omagh bombing - his son died at the scene.

Chief Constable of the RUC, Ronnie Flanagan has said he believes that the loyalists behind the shooting assumed that the young man was Catholic, while Sinn Fein councillor Martin Meehan has hit out at the attackers, describing them as “bigots” who have ended the life of a young man for purely sectarian reasons. He added: “They wear different hats, Red Hand Defenders, LVF. Does it really matter at the end of the day?”

The tragedy comes as GAA clubs throughout the province have experienced a spate of attacks ranging from pipe bombs to attempted arson, with yet another incendiary device discovered outside a clubhouse in Country Londonderry on Sunday 29 July. Meanwhile, a car abandoned outside a GAA club in Armoy, County Antrim on 7 July was found to have contained two pipe bombs, which had already exploded. British Army bomb disposal experts were called in to deal with the incident, which occurred on the Glenshesk Road, and they confirmed that two devices had gone off inside the car. A second vehicle found outside a Ballycastle GAA club was later declared a hoax, after police carried out a controlled explosion. (CL)

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