NewsCrime Desk

GAA star's home burnt out in arson attack 'by IRA gangsters'

Blaze: The house was destroyed in what neighbours called an IRA arson attack
Blaze: The house was destroyed in what neighbours called an IRA arson attack

A house being built by an All-Ireland-winning Gaelic football star has been destroyed in what locals believe is an IRA arson attack.

The house at Monog Road outside Crossmaglen, Co Armagh, being built by local GAA star Danny O'Callaghan, was completely gutted. Six fire appliances from south Down and Armagh services attended the fire when it broke out at around 2.30am on Sunday.

It is the second house to have been attacked in a similar fashion in the past two months.

The cause of Sunday morning's fire will not be known until results of forensic examination by the PSNI and Northern Ireland Fire Service are back.

However, two ground floor windows were smashed and it is believed arsonists poured flammable liquid in through one, starting the fire. The second broken window would have provided a draught.

Local people said the house being built by Mr O'Callaghan was close to completion.

There was deep anger in the area yesterday over what was described locally as a "dirty Provo job", the Herald reported.

Danny O'Callaghan's father, also Danny, was attacked by the Provisional IRA's 'South Armagh Brigade' 13 years ago.

He was shot six times in the arms and legs after being overpowered by an IRA squad in February 2002 in front of his son. In another incident the following month, the same IRA punishment squad attempted to abduct and do serious harm to another man.

But, in the melee that broke out in a yard at Cullaville, a member of the IRA 'punishment' gang, Keith Rogers (21) was shot and killed. Rogers's death is commemorated by Sinn Féin each year.

Mr O'Callaghan senior, who also lives on Monog Road near his son's house, said the family did not wish to comment.

Local people blamed the 'offspring' of local Provisional IRA bosses who control the massively lucrative diesel and cigarette smuggling trade.

Sources said that members of the same gang that beat 21-year-old Paul Quinn, from Cullyhanna, to death in October 2007 were responsible for the attack on Danny O'Callaghan's home.

The O'Callaghans are highly respected in the area and have no connection with any illegal or illicit activity. Locals say there is bitter resentment towards them from local Provisional republicans.

Local people said Danny O'Callaghan Jnr lived for two years in Australia but returned and took up playing with Crossmaglen Rangers. He has three All-Ireland club medals.