Nationalist man lucky to be alive following vicious assault by loyalist bandsmen in Castlederg
Sinn Féin Councillor Charlie Mc Hugh, has described as "vicious" an attack on two local nationalist women and a local nationalist man by a group of up to ten loyalist bandsmen in Castlederg in the early hours of this morning (Sunday).
Following the attack Councillor Mc Hugh said that the local nationalist man received such a severe beating that he is lucky to be alive.Cllr Mc Hugh said,
"In the early hours of this morning three local nationalists: a man and woman in their twenties and another girl in her teens were making their way home from a friends house along the Killeter Road into the town when they were accosted by a group of up to ten loyalist bandsmen.
"Upon asking the nationalist man for a cigarette and upon having received it, the loyalist bandsmen, who were all wearing their new "Pride of the Derg Flute Band uniforms, launched a frenzied attack on him kicking him repeatedly about the head and body while he was on the ground. The two nationalist women were also assaulted one receiving an injury to her face and the other having her hair pulled and a flute pushed into her face.
"It was only when several females who were accompanying the bandsmen shouted for them to stop that they did so. Only for this and for the fact that the young nationalist man is very fit, I believe would have been kicked to death.
"The man was admitted to Tyrone County hospital and is suffering from severe head and back injuries and the two women are severely traumatised.
"The local nationalist community are extremely angry at this vicious sectarian attack but I would appeal for calm and cool heads in the area.
Growing concern about next Saturday
This same Pride of the Derg Flute Band, some members of which carried this assault, has filled for a major loyalist band parade in Castlederg on Saturday night coming (Saturday 23rd July). The parade involving 23 bands, has filled to parade into the nationalist Ferguson Crescent, Killeter Road area of the town.
The parade coincides with the Tyrone vs Armagh Ulster Final replay and pubs in the nationalist end of the town will be packed with Tyrone supporters. The parade could also potentially interfere with evening mass at St Patrick's Catholic Church and is scheduled to pass near by the chapel as parishioners are getting out.