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24 July 2003 Edition

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Loyalist Mob Attacks Golfer

A mob of more than 20 loyalists attacked a Catholic man last Sunday, 20 July, as he played golf on an Antrim course, in what was clearly a sectarian attack.

The incident took place at Aberdelghy Golf Club, in Dunmurry, at around 4:30pm. The 21-year-old victim and his brother-in-law were playing a round of golf when they were confronted by two men wearing Glasgow Rangers' football tops. The men ordered the Catholic golfer to remove his Celtic shirt.

"They said 'give us your top' and I gave it to them," says the victim, "I didn't want any trouble." The two loyalists then left, but returned a short time later with a much larger group of men, who chased both golfers.

After separating, in a bid to escape their attackers, the man who had been wearing the Celtic shirt was trapped by a second group who were lying in wait. He was then set upon by at least 20 loyalists who beat him with golf clubs, iron bars and poles painted red, white, and blue.

The force of the attack was so brutal that the mark left by the head of a golf club is still clearly visible on his chest. The victim recalled to An Phoblacht how he was forced to "play dead" in a bid to survive.

"They beat me with golf clubs, sticks, iron bars and poles," he said. "They kept shouting 'you Fenian bastard.' They said they were going to leave me worse than Harry McCartan. I thought they were going to beat me to death."

Harry McCartan was beaten and nailed to a fence in an attack by loyalists last year.

The Catholic golfer sustained cuts and bruises to his body, a broken arm, and received a number of staples to his head. He says he lay still on the ground for more than ten minutes without moving, "pretending to be dead" until the mob left.

"When they were hitting me, I wasn't screaming or anything. I just let them hit me. When I staggered up the golf course, no-one would give me a hand or help me. I was falling all over the place semi-conscious."

"We were just trying to enjoy a game of golf. We didn't say anything to them about wearing their Rangers tops and never do. My brother-in-law is in a terrible state, he is deeply traumatised and I haven't been able to sleep with the injuries as my chest is very sore."

This is the second time the victim has been attacked by loyalists, having been the target of another beating a year ago.

Sinn Féin's Michael Ferguson commented, "it is an outrageous attack. Everybody will be relieved he wasn't more seriously hurt or killed. People should be able to be Irish, Catholic and not be afraid".

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