‘Red Card’ | 

Crossmaglen Rangers refuse to comment after senior figure at main sponsor jailed for attack

Hanratty Oils has been the current Armagh champions’ main sponsor for the last three years but it’s understood that is about to end after Eugene Hanratty Snr was jailed for a vicious attack

Eugene Hanratty Sr.

Martin McAllister an anti-smuggling campaigner who was left with life-changing injuries after he was viciously assaulted by suspected fuel smuggler Eugene Hanratty (senior)

Martin McAllister suffered broken bones in his face, both his eye sockets were broken and he has lost his peripheral vision after Eugene Hanratty Snr (63) attacked him

Steven MooreSunday World

Crossmaglen Rangers have refused to comment on reports they’ve “red-carded” their main sponsor after a senior figure at Hanratty Oils was jailed.

Hanratty Oils has been the current Armagh champions’ main sponsor for the last three years but it’s understood that is about to end after Eugene Hanratty Snr was jailed last week in Dublin for four years – with one of those years suspended.

Mr Hanratty had been found guilty of a vicious and pre-meditated attack on Castleblayney man Martin McAllister and as well as being sent to prison for a considerable period he was also ordered to have no contact with the family of Mr McAllister for ten years.

It emerged during sentencing on Tuesday that Hanratty Snr has two previous convictions; one for assault of a garda in 1989 and one for criminal damage in 1997.

Last night Mr McAllister told the Sunday World he was “delighted” the ten-year case was finally over.

Hanratty had launched a cowardly attack on him as he sat in his car. He was knocked unconscious and repeatedly kicked and punched.

These new images of the injuries caused show the horrific aftermath of the brutal attack, which took place in front of Mr McAllister’s horrified wife.

The disturbing pictures taken a few days after the attack show the imprint of a boot on the chin of Mr McAllister and shows he was booted in the back of his head.

Now that Hanratty Snr is behind bars the case could have a devastating impact on the local community with the local GAA club reportedly cutting ties with the convicted thug.

Martin McAllister an anti-smuggling campaigner who was left with life-changing injuries after he was viciously assaulted by suspected fuel smuggler Eugene Hanratty (senior)

The Sunday World understands at a meeting this week senior officials at Crossmaglen Rangers GAC met and agreed to end their relationship with the family run oil business.

A spokesperson for Crossmaglen Rangers GAC told the Sunday World, “We are not making any comment on this,” and refused to confirm or deny the reports.

It’s not clear whether the partnership between Hanratty Oils and Crossmaglen Rangers GAC is to end immediately or if the club has decided not to renew for next season.

The company name is emblazoned on the shirts of the famous south Armagh club and as of yesterday the company logos remained on the club website.

One of Ireland's best known GAA clubs, it has dominated Armagh senior football for more than two decades and during that time has won 11 Ulster club titles and six All-Ireland club titles.

However, their season came to a shock premature end last weekend when they suffered defeat in the Ulster Senior Football Championship preliminary round when they were beaten by five point by Monaghan side Ballybay.

Last Tuesday disgraced millionaire businessman Eugene Hanratty Snr was jailed for the shocking and unprovoked attack in which he knocked his victim unconscious and slammed a car door on his hands.

The 63-year-old attacked environmental campaigner Martin McAllister at a remote farm near Castleblayney in County Monaghan in 2012.

As reported here last month Mr McAllister suffered horrendous life changing injuries including permanent damage to his eyesight and a haematoma on his brain.

Martin McAllister suffered broken bones in his face, both his eye sockets were broken and he has lost his peripheral vision after Eugene Hanratty Snr (63) attacked him

Speaking exclusively to the Sunday World Mr McAllister told the Sunday World he was glad the case was now finally over.

“I am of course delighted and extremely glad that this is over, he had two separate legal teams and at once stage represented himself and it seemed at every turn the scrum was collapsed at every opportunity which was very frustrating and just dragged it all out,” he said.

“All of this made things very protracted and prolonged the stress. It has also caused our local GAA club to be needlessly embroiled in all of this.

“Crossmaglen Rangers have been and are a wonderful club. This community have been held together through some very dark days in the past by the work of this club.

“l have nothing but admiration for them and the great work they do.”

The club itself recently has seen some very dark days but continue to produce elite athletes playing GAA at the highest level of the game.

A number of ex-players and officials are currently behind bars for serious criminal offences.

However, the club retains a significant level of community support as the club remains the lifeblood of the border town.

Martin McAllister told the Sunday World he had been “overwhelmed” by the support he had received by the local community.

“I’ve had around 150 messages of support from the local community in the last few days,” says Martin.

“It’s overwhelming but greatly appreciated, it’s been incredible. I hope to be able to get on with my life now. It has been an extremely hard ten years.”

Mr McAllister says he was assaulted because he had challenged Mr Hanratty about allegations of diesel sludge dumping and in 2010 had walked with then PSNI Chief Constable, Matt Baggott, down the main street of Crossmaglen, raising the issue – something he told the court “made me very unpopular with certain people”.

At court last week Judge Melanie Greally said that the jury rejected Hanratty's defence of justified use of force which maintained that the violence arose as a result of a physical altercation following a dispute in relation to duck shooting rights on local lands.

She said the aggravating factors included this clear pre-meditation, the severity and brutality of the violence, the fact that most of the blows, including kicks, were directed at the victim's head and face and the fact that Hanratty stamped on the victim's arm knowing the victim is a musician.

Padraig Dwyer SC, defending, had earlier submitted that his client was “a pillar of the community” who contributed to local community activities including the church and the GAA. He said while his client does not accept fully the jury verdict, he does accept he did act and used excessive violence on the day.

Judge Greally said there was no tangible expressions of remorse from the defendant, “not even a suggestion of an apology for the injuries he has caused”.

But she said she accepted that his imprisonment would have a severe impact on his family and would be a source of shame and humiliation for him and his family.

Hanratty Snr was once accused of cross-border fuel smuggling and had €2m in 12 bank accounts frozen by the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB).

He always denied the claims made by CAB, however when the case came to court in 2007 the judge was told a settlement had been reached between the Bureau and Mr Hanratty – a settlement that it was agreed would remain confidential.

Speaking outside court, Mr McAllister said he was targeted because he “stood against the dumping of sludge” in south Armagh and the Monaghan and Louth border.

“There’s a fear factor, there’s an omerta where I live,” he said.

“The significance is that you can no longer get away intimidating people, with bullying people.

“This man is a huge bully, but like all bullies, ultimately, at the end of the day, he’s a coward.”

The court case sent shockwaves through An Garda Siochana because of the behaviour of the investigating officer.

The fact the case was dragged out over three trials – the first one was in February 2016 – was mostly down to the fact investigating Garda officer, John Doherty, refused to attend court.

Steven.moore@sundayworld.com


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