Chris Baird

The home of a Northern Irish international footballer's mother has been petrol bombed twice in three weeks. Chris Baird's mother was miraculously unhurt following the second 'sectarian' bombing on her home.

Police believe that they may have been sectarian attacks. Petrol bombs were thrown at the house in Rasharkin, County Antrim, in the early hours of Sunday morning. Those inside escaped injury and a passerby aided in extinguishing the fires.

A local Sinn Fein politician, Daithi McKay said that attack was attempted murder. "It is quite clear they are being targeted because they are a Catholic family…People are shocked and very angry that they have been singled out," he told the Guardian newspaper.

Over the last months there have been tit-for-tat attacks in the village of Rasharkin which is overall a religiously mixed village.

Democratic Unionist politician Mervyn Storey called the attacks on the family home "despicable".

He said "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."

"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."
Chris Baird is a Northern Ireland player who also plays for Fulham Football Club.

Sadly Baird is not the first Northern Ireland player to suffer sectarian intimidation. Neil Lennon, Celtic Football Club's current manager, quit the international squad when Northern Ireland supporters gave him abuse for being a Catholic playing in Glasgow. Lennon also received death threats.

In the 1970s loyalist paramilitaries attempted to kill Matt Bradley, an Irish league player who was training near Belfast. A gunman raced into the training grounds and chase Bradley around the football pitch. Luckily he escaped injury.