Two SF politicians attacked over bonfire

Fri, Aug 1, 2008, 01:00

TWO SINN Féin politicians were attacked by a group of young republicans in Ballymena, Co Antrim, yesterday in a row over a bonfire, according to Sinn Féin.

North Antrim Assembly member Daithi McKay and councillor Padraig McShane said they were assaulted while supporting residents in the nationalist Dunclug Estate who had called for the removal of materials gathered for a bonfire in the area.

Mr McKay said he and Mr McShane were attacked by a man and struck several times. They were in the estate "in opposition to criminal and antisocial elements who are using this bonfire as a cover for other activities". He said the community was totally opposed to the bonfire, which commemorates the introduction of internment in 1971.

A BBC camera crew was in the estate at the time and captured the attack on film, which showed one man throwing punches and kicks at Mr McKay.

"In the past republicans have faced attack from the British as well as loyalist paramilitaries," said Mr McKay. "We will not be silenced or deterred by a small number of hoods believing that they can dictate to the rest of the community. No one has forced their will on us in the past and we will not allow these people to do that now."

Mr McKay and Mr McShane were allegedly assaulted after they left the home of a local community worker, who also opposed the bonfire. His home was attacked by up to 20 stone-throwing youths on Wednesday night.