18 October 2007 Edition
PSNI fail to stop another sectarian attack
A young man was set upon by a gang of loyalists outside a night spot in Banbridge, County Down last Sunday 14 October and according to Sinn Féin councillor Dessie Ward a PSNI patrol vehicle was just yards from the incident yet refused to intervene.
Ward went on to describe the attack as attempted murder as the loyalist attackers aimed most of their blows at the young man’s head and shoulders. He explained how the man’s friend lay on top of him to protect him from a more serious beating.
“I am advised that this particular incident will be the subject of a complaint to the Police Ombudsman. However, it beggars belief that this sort of thing is being allowed to happen without any form of intervention by the PSNI. It should be mentioned that there is a CCTV camera in this area and it would be interesting to see how much of this incident was recorded”, concluded Ward.
This follows on from a similar incident in the Woodhouse Street area of Portadown the previous weekend when two nationalists were beaten by loyalists and the PSNI refused to take action. The Portadown assault, which was caught on CCTV camera, had all the hallmarks of the murder of Robert Hamill in 1997.
Both events raise serious questions about the PSNI and the inaction of its members in face of loyalist violence.
Meanwhile North Antrim Sinn Féin MLA Daithí McKay has said it is essential that sentencing in violent sectarian attacks reflect the nature of the crimes. He was speaking after Ballymena loyalist Aaron White was sentenced to 22 years imprisonment for the brutal attack on a Catholic man in the County Antrim town in October 2003.
McKay likened the attack to those carried out by the Shankill Butchers in Belfast in the 1970s adding that the man’s only crime was that he was a Catholic.
Michael Reid was visiting a friend in the Harryville area of Ballymena in October 2003 when he was confronted by Aaron White his brother Neil and a third man. The trio quizzed Reid, discovered he was a Catholic and tried to kill him. They strangled him, beat him about the head with a heavy saucepan then stabbed him repeatedly. All the while the loyalists screamed, ‘die fenian, f...... die’.
Reid faked death and as he lay prone Aaron Reid and the unknown assailant went to find a saw to cut up and dispose of Reid, leaving Neil White to stand guard over the body.
Before the pair returned Reid attacked White and fled.
Reid was picked up by the then RUC who arrested Neil White at the scene. Both Aaron White and the third man escaped.
Neil White was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment in September 2005 while his brother was picked up in Ballymena in October 2005 after two years on the run in England. The third attacker has never been found.