7 August 2008 Edition

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SF MLA and Councillor assaulted in Ballymena

Daithí McKay

Daithí McKay

Sinn Féin Assembly Member for North Antrim, Daithí McKay, has described the people behind a plan to build a bonfire in Ballymena this coming Friday night, 8 August as “an anti-social and criminal element”.
McKay made his comments after trouble flared in the Dunclug Estate last Wednesday 30 July when a gang of youths attacked the home of community worker, Barry Gordon, who had voiced his opposition to the bonfire.
On hearing of the attack on the community worker’s home McKay and party colleague Padraig McShane visited the man’s home on Thursday 31 July to offer their support. However while the Sinn Féin representatives were in the man’s house a crowd gathered outside in an attempt to intimidate.
When McKay and McShane went out to challenge the mob they were assaulted, McShane was knocked to the ground while McKay was beaten about the head and suffered a cut to his ear.
Speaking to An Phoblacht McKay took issue with the media portrayal of the incident saying:
“The media have described the people behind the attacks on Barry Gordon and Padraig McShane and myself as republicans. These people have proven over the years, by their anti-social and anti-community behaviour, that they are no better than thugs and criminals.
“In the past five years since this bonfire was started those behind it have used it as an excuse for excessive drinking and thuggery and have gone on to attack houses in this estate.
“This community does not want a bonfire and Sinn Féin will stand by the people of this estate who want to build the community. We are totally opposed to the thugs who are hell bent on destroying the community”.
A residents meeting was held in the Dunclug Estate on Monday night 4 August to discuss the bonfire and a number of arson attacks on unoccupied flats in the estate.
According to Daithí McKay the fires were set by those in favour of the bonfire, “as a way of flexing their muscles and sending out a warning to the community”. McKay confirmed that the overwhelming majority of residents opposed the bonfire “as it just brought trouble”.
McKay also confirmed that he has made a statement to the PSNI in relation to the assault that he suffered:
“Sinn Féin have called on the nationalist population of the Six Counties to use the PSNI to deal with criminal behaviour it would be wrong of me to walk away from this situation so Padraig and I have made statements to the PSNI.
“The influence of these criminal elements must be brought to an end so it is now up to the PSNI and the Public Prosecution Service to stand by this community and deal with these thugs”

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1

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