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Scourge of sectarianism in Coleraine needs challenged head on

4 September, 2009

Sinn Féin Councillor Billy Leonard has spoken of the need to challenge sectarianism within the Coleraine area. This follows a second attack on Damien Fleming who was left in coma follwing a previous sectarian attack this summer which resulted in the tragic death of Kevin McDaid.
Speaking earlier Cllr Leonard said:
“This was an appalling second attack on Damien Fleming. I have spoken to his family and Damien is left both shaken and very upset. Fortunately his injuries are not as severe as they were in the previous attack on him.
“For this to happen at all is totally unacceptable, but to happen to a man who was left in a coma following an earlier sectarian assault and for him to be be deliberately targeted is beyond belief.
“While the word sectarianism may get used a lot it seriousness is not necessarily brought home to people until something tragic happens. Sectarianism is the cancer that led to the murders of Kevin McDaid, Robert Hamill, and Thomas Devlin.
“It needs tackled wherever it raises its head. This means at all levels and at all forums. It means challenging it within council, on the streets, on the internet, in the newspapers and anywhere else. It also means that attitudes, made in public statements, that some groups will not sit down and talk with another are outdated, dangerous and can clearly feed sectarian attitudes.
“There is an onus on us all, but in particular the leadership within unionism, to challenge sectarianism head on. The evidence highlights that the vast majority of these attacks are emanating from within the unionist community.
“Strident efforts to tackle the sectarianism within Coleraine need to be made before we have another victim and another tragedy on our hands. Sinn Fein is up and ready for this task and I am appealing to unionist leaders to sit down with myself and other representatives in the coming weeks to devise a comprehensive and effective strategy to challenge the scourge of sectarianism.”

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