CREGGAN GAA CLUB TORCHED IN ARSON ATTACK TO RE-OPEN THIS WEEKEND
A Derry GAA club which was razed to the ground in an arson attack five years ago is back from the ashes and ready to re-open this weekend.
Sean Dolan’s club house in Creggan was destroyed in a fire an early morning attack two days after Boxing Day in December 2011.
The PSNI were disciplined in 2014 after a Police Ombudsman investigation found officers had failed to properly investigate the blaze.
CCTV footage taken from inside the club, which had earlier been investigated by his officers, showed shadowy figures moving at a window seconds before several flashes which were later followed by flames.
Sinn Fein later claimed that dissident republican vigilante group RAAD were behind the attack.
The club said it is now looking forward to a new era after a £800,000 investment.
Founded in 1942, vice chairman Mark McCleary said the club’s very existence was under threat following the arson attack.
“We had nothing, our pitch was overgrown, we didn’t have changing rooms, we had to travel even to train and every match we had to play away from home for four years.
“Definitely a few times we thought we would just throw the towel in,” Mr McCleary said.
The club lost its entire underage structure and has been surviving with just one senior team.
Police had initially concluded that the fire had been caused by an electrical fault.
But they later issued a statement saying they were now treating it as arson.
Club secretary and life-long member Danny Cassidy believes the future looks bright after a difficult few years.
“It will take about five years to get back to where we were before the arson attack. It’s not an easy task,” Mr Cassidy said.
“We’re under no illusions but this club belongs to the Creggan community and they’re delighted to see the club up and running again.
“We’re very proud of this area and it’s great to see something that is going to enrich the Creggan community,” he added.
The new facilities include a state-of-the art changing room and clubhouse area along with a new pitch.