Callous thieves attempt to steal charity fundraiser cash

October 25, 2011

By Brónagh Murphy

The burglary at a local GAA club at the weekend, just hours after a charity fundraising event was held on the premises, has been described as callous in the extreme and has greatly angered the local community.

Intruders broke into St. Patrick’s GFC clubhouse in Cullyhanna early on Saturday morning, just hours after a hugely successful fundraiser was held in support of a young local man who is recovering from serious injury.

The community came together to offer their assistance through the function for young Paddy McDonnell from the village who sustained serious spinal injuries in an accident at work four months ago.  Paddy has been in hospital undergoing intensive medical treatment since the accident and will require further extensive rehabilitation therapy to regain his full health.

Friday night’s event was one of the biggest events ever held in the club, attracting hundreds of people all keen to show their support for Paddy and his family.  The night was a huge success, raising thousands of pounds.

However, shortly before 6.00am on Saturday, a gang of thieves broke into the club and removed a safe which had been bolted to the floor and walls.  Although the safe contained an estimated £1000, none of the proceeds of the night’s event were inside.

Club Secretary Aeneas Carragher said it is only because of the diligence of the event’s security-conscious organisers – who removed all the proceeds from the premises at the end of the night – that the theft of the charity cash was prevented. He says that the event for Paddy McDonnell was extensively publicised ahead of the night and he has no doubt that those responsible deliberately planned to steal the proceeds.

“It was widely known that this function was going to be held and it is clear that they [the thieves] planned to come and take the safe and whatever money was raised for Paddy McDonnell along with it.  So many people had done so much work for the function, to think that they might have got away with it it doesn’t even bear thinking about.  How someone could consider planning that, to go and carry it out?  How can these people stoop so low?” he asked.

Despite thwarting the theft of the fundraising cash, the organisers of the function are distraught at the callousness of those who broke into the club, intent on stealing the proceeds for which dozens of people worked tirelessly and many hundreds donated generously towards.

Mr Carragher says the selfish and mindless actions of a few will not be allowed to overshadow the fantastic community spirit and generosity behind the successful fundraiser for Paddy McDonnell.  He made an emotional appeal for anyone who has any information on the theft or those responsible to contact the police or club officials.

Police investigating the incident have removed CCTV from the premises for examination and have appealed for witnesses to contact them.