15 May 1997 Edition

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McGuinness calls for halt to sectarian attacks

By Mick Naughton.

Martin McGuinness has called for a halt to sectarian attacks following the death of Catholic Robert Hamill in Portadown on Thursday and a series of attacks in Derry that left Protestant Ivan Hetherington on a life support machine.

``Sectarianism is unacceptable from wherever it comes and cannot be condoned under any circumstances. There have been a number of these attacks over the past few months on members from both sections of the religious divide and they must all be equally deplored. The only result of these senseless attacks is grief and hurt for the victim and their family, and unfair and unjustifiable blame on the entire community from which the attackers come.''

In McGuinness's home town of Derry city two men, one a Catholic, the other a Protestant have been the victims of such attacks over the past week.

In the first serious attack Conor McCourt from London Street was injured on 12 April, and then attacked again on Sunday evening 4 May as he returned from the Derry City Cup final. On that occasion McCourt was attacked while making his way through the loyalist Fountain estate. Six men hit him with bottles and glasses and he fell to the ground. He later required emergency treatment in Altnagelvin Hospital.

Then again last weekend Protestant Ivan Hetherington from Heron Way was set upon as he walked home alone on Spencer Road in the early hours of last Saturday morning. He was beaten up opposite a fast food takeaway after visiting friends in the Fountain. He was on a life support machine for over 24 hours and his condition is described as ``ill but stable.''

McGuinness extended his sympathy to the young men and their families and added that it was incumbent upon all political leaders to impress on their respective communities the dangerous consequences which could result from these mindless attacks. Seven people from Derry have been charged with the assault on Hetherington.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1

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