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15 May 2008 Edition

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Catholic man injured in Ballymena attack

Daithí McKay

Daithí McKay

A YOUNG Catholic man says he is lucky to be alive after an attack by a sectarian gang in Ballymena.
Paul O’Neill was ambushed as he walked along the Doury Road in the County Antrim town last Wednesday week, 7 May.
The occupants of four cars waylaid O’Neill just after he left a friend’s house. According to the young man, two of the cars stopped in front of him while the other vehicles pulled up behind and the occupants set about him.
Ironically, O’Neill believes that because so many loyalists were involved in the beating he escaped being seriously injured as they were getting in each other’s way and could not get clean strikes on him.
Commenting on the incident, Sinn Féin’s Daithí McKay said:
“It is quite clear that sectarianism remains a major issue in Ballymena and this young man could have lost his life as a direct result of this.
“There has been sterling work carried out by the civic community in Ballymena over recent years to combat sectarianism but there needs to be more political leadership – on all sides.
“From 2005 to 2007 there were 275 sectarian attacks in Ballymena and 294 people were informed by the PSNI that their lives were under threat.
“Politicians cannot continue to put their heads in the sand when it comes to these statistics and the gang attacks which are carried out in this town. Those involved in this activity are thugs and we must work toward a situation where these people, their sectarian attacks and their sectarian attitudes have no credibility or support within their community.”
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