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27 November 2003 Edition

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Loyalists beat Lisburn Catholic to death

The brutal sectarian slaying of 21-year-old Catholic James McMahon in Lisburn City centre is making a mockery of Lisburn Council's motto of a "city for everyone", Father Seán Rogan told mourners at Requiem Mass for the murdered man on Tuesday 25 November.

James McMahon was bludgeoned by a UDA gang in Lisburn City centre on Thursday night 20 November, in a sectarian attack. He died of his injuries the following day.

The young nationalist was with friends at the Lagan weir just before 10.30pm when two men, wielding baseball bats, confronted them. McMahon and his companions ran off along Hancock Street, towards Sloan Street, but as McMahon ran through Stanus Street a third man jumped out and knocked him to the ground.

McMahon was cornered and the gang set about him with the baseball bats, leaving him seriously injured, while his friends escaped to raise the alarm.

When members of the PSNI and ambulance crews arrived, they found the young Catholic man slumped on the ground with severe head injuries.

McMahon, from Roseville Park in Lisburn was taken to Lagan Valley Hospital and later transferred to Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital, where he died, with his family at his bedside, at 2.30pm on Friday 21 November.

The dead man's mother, Deirdre, offered to donate her son's organs to save others.

Parish priest Fr Seán Rogan, who was with Deirdre McMahon when her son died, hit out at the sectarian killers. "He was cut down in the prime of life by faceless, cruel and callous people. Unfortunately this attack on the sacredness of human life brought the death of a young man in his prime at only 21 years of age."

Around 1,000 mourners at St Patrick's Catholic church in Lisburn heard Fr Rogan call on people of all cultures to stand together to oppose violence in the community.

"It will take many floods of water to wash away the stain and shame of that dark and foul murder of James on last Thursday night," he said.

Bishop Anthony Farquhar branded McMahon's death a "brutal and callous murder which had disgusted the community".

He said the repeated threats to human life have filled us with tensions and anxiety. "When they spill over into killing then we experience a profound sense of shock at the evil which is being perpetrated".

Sinn Féin Lisburn councillor Paul Butler said in recent times there has been a marked increase in unionist paramilitary activity in the city, both against Catholics and against members of the unionist community.

"Catholics in Lisburn and across Lagan Valley feel they have been abandoned time and time again to the violent excesses of unionist paramilitaries," he said. "The Unionist paramilitaries have taken their lead from Lisburn City Council, which refuses to accept the mandate of their elected nationalist representatives to be heard and treated as equals in Lisburn".

Butler called on the nationalist community in the Lisburn area to be extremely vigilant.

The killing comes after a 37-year-old Catholic lost an eye in a sectarian murder bid after being viciously attacked with machetes and hammers by loyalists as he left the Boundary Bar on the Shore Road on the outskirts of North Belfast two weekends ago.


An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1

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