KILL ALL TAIGS: death threat to kids’ team

By Gemma Burns

A group of West Belfast children fled a leisure centre cowering in terror on the floor of a minibus after sectarian graffiti was daubed on their vehicle while they played a soccer match.
The children from Celtic Bhoys 12s were playing a friendly game in Ballysillan Leisure Centre on Friday evening past.
The boys and girls, who are between 10 and 11 years old, returned to the bus just after 7pm to find ‘KAT’s’ (Kill All Taigs) painted on the back of their minibus.
The team’s furious coach, Joe Doyle, said when the children saw the graffiti they were in tears and terrified that they were going to be attacked leaving the loyalist area.
“We got back to the bus after a great match and saw the graffiti,” he said.

Terrified
“When the kids saw it they were terrified and we didn’t know what to do.
“They were too frightened to get on the bus and we didn’t know how we were going to get home driving through loyalist areas with that on the back.
“I had to call parents to come and pick some of the kids up. The children were crying in the back of the bus. They drove home lying on the floor because they were so afraid that the bus’s windows were going to be put in. These are 10-year-old kids and they were terrified.”
The coach of the Twinbrook team said some of the children are now too afraid to go back to the leisure centre to play matches.
“Some of the parents said they don’t want the kids to go back and some said the kids themselves don’t want to.
“We have been welcomed into Protestant areas many times and had no troubles. This is just idiots who want to take us back in time.”
North Belfast Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly condemned the incident as “despicable”.
“It’s possible that this action was the work of only a small number of individuals but it’s despicable that anyone would be bigoted enough to target children in this way,” he said.
“There is no place for this type of sectarian intimidation. If it does continue at sporting facilities then those with a responsibility for arranging fixtures need to ensure that the safety of children is paramount.”
A spokeswoman for the PSNI said they are treating the incident as a hate crime.
“Police are treating this as a hate crime and appeal to anyone who witnessed the incident or who has any information in relation to the incident to contact Police in Tennent Street on the non-emergency number 101.
The police spokeswoman added: “If you prefer to provide information without giving your details you can contact the independent Crimestoppers charity anonymously on 0800 555 111.”

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