Northern Ireland

Home of Chris Baird's mum is attacked in Rasharkin

The home of the mother of Northern Ireland and Fulham footballer Chris Baird has been attacked in Rasharkin, County Antrim.

A petrol bomb was thrown at the front window of the house in Wallace Park at 0345 BST on Sunday. The flames were put out by a passer-by.

A number of people inside escaped injury. Police said a sectarian motive was one line of inquiry.

Later on Sunday, a bullet was pushed through another family's letterbox.

That incident - on a Protestant family - is also being treated as sectarian. A brick was also thrown at their house.

Rasharkin is a religiously mixed village, though with a Catholic majority.

In the last six months, there have been 18 sectarian attacks in the village.

Some of the tensions are related to Protestant loyal order parades.

PSNI Chief Inspector, John Magill said it was "appalling to see" that some people were intent on exercising their sectarianism through intimidation and destruction of property.

"Once again Rasharkin has come under the spotlight for all the wrong reasons causing a disservice to the many people who want to live in the village in peace," he said.

"Local police will continue to do their part to prevent attacks of this nature through visible patrolling and investigate any incidents robustly with a view to putting offenders before the courts."

Mr Magill said policing alone will not resolve the underlying issues behind these sectarian attacks.

"Any lasting solution must come from the community itself," he added.

It is understood to be the second time in three weeks that Mrs Baird's home has been attacked.

Daithi McKay of Sinn Fein described the incident as a case of "attempted murder".

"It is quite clear they are being targeted because they are a Catholic family," he said.

"The family are not involved in anything political.

"People are shocked and very angry that they have been singled out."

Mervyn Storey of the Democratic Unionist Party condemned the attack on the Baird family home as "despicable".

"Yet again we have another family subjected to sectarian hatred and unfortunately the reality is that since April of this year we have had something like 16 sectarian attacks in Rasharkin and 25 since the beginning of the year," he added.

"It is a hate crime.

"It is someone venting their hatred and their anger for whatever reason on someone who should not be attacked in this way."

Mr Storey said he would be meeting with the Police Service of Northern Ireland chief constable Matt Baggott to ensure there were "adequate resources" to deal with such incidents.

UUP Councillor Bill Kennedy said: "These incidents have been on the increase in Rasharkin over recent months and it is time they came to a close.

"The use of a petrol bomb in this incident could have had horrible consequences."

Captain

Baird has captained Northern Ireland in the past, and was first given the role against Liechtenstein in August 2007.

Chris Baird has made more than 40 appearances for Northern Ireland

He plays for Fulham in the English Premiership, and signed a new three year contract with the London club last week.

The 28-year-old arrived from Southampton in July 2007 and was a key part of the Fulham team that reached the Europa League final in May.

Baird started his career at Ballymena United before joining Southampton's youth academy in 1998 and made his first team debut in March 2003.

He joined Fulham for £3m and was signed by then manager, the former Northern Ireland boss Lawrie Sanchez.

He has won more than 40 international caps and played in the Northern Ireland team which secured a 1-0 win in Slovenia in their Euro 2012 qualifier on 3 September.

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