Paschal Morgan attack: Hotel owner says community are in shock
The owner of a hotel where building contractor Paschal Morgan had been socialising shortly before he was left for dead in a sectarian attack, has said the entire community is praying for his recovery.
Mr Morgan remains in a serious condition in the Royal Victoria Hospital after a brutal assault on Sunday night.
Police arrested a 34-year-old man but later released him pending further enquiries.
Sam Hamilton, part owner of the Kilmorey Arms Hotel in the Co Down town of Kilkeel where Mr Morgan had been prior to the attack, said his premises is used by people "from all over the country and around the world"
"We don’t condone sectarianism and it’s not tolerated in this building, the hotel is completely mixed, it is widely used by the entire community, there's never any problem," he said.
"If anything did occur within the premises the person would be removed by my door staff immediately, anyone who mentions religion or sectarianism are marched to the front door and barred for life", Mr Hamilton added.
Mr Hamilton said he had been with Mr Morgan all evening and that there was no confrontation at the table.
He also said he stayed with him until the ambulance arrived and has cooperated fully with police.
"Paschal was in our company all night and we had a great night's craic. It was a complete shock when we found out what happened and we are all shocked by this.
"I completely condemn what happened, I wish him a speedy recovery, every one does, we are all devastated by what happened," Mr Hamilton added.
Mr Morgan, a 48-year-old father of two, was attacked on the Greencastle Road as he walked home and was left with bruising to the front of his brain, shattered eye sockets and cheekbones and a suspected broken jaw.
It is believed he was targeted because he is from a well-known Catholic family in the town and it is understood police are treating the assault as a sectarian hate crime.
SDLP South Down MLA Sinead Bradley condemned those responsible.
"It takes a sick and depraved individual to inflict the kind of violence that Paschal Morgan suffered on Sunday evening. The images in the aftermath of the attack are horrifying and really show just the evil nature of this barbaric assault," she said.
"It appears that this man was targeted for no other reason than because he is a Catholic. This kind of vicious and sickening sectarianism has no support in our community and those responsible for it need to be flushed out. I would appeal to anyone with information to come forward as a matter of urgency".
Sinn Féin MP Chris Hazzard called on the PSNI to ensure those responsible are brought to justice as swiftly as possible.
The South Down MP said the attack has shocked the local community "where the Morgan family is very well-known and well-liked".
Mr Hazard said: "This was a savage attack and those responsible need to be taken off the streets. I have been in contact with the PSNI and urged them to ensure that is the case.
"I would also urge political leaders to do more to face down the scourge of sectarianism in our society. It is when leaders fail to confront and condemn sectarianism, that attacks like this occur", he added.
Ulster Unionist MLA Doug Beattie called the attack "Utterly disgusting".
"Nobody should be subject to this type of sectarian abuse and violence purely because of their religion. I hope Paschal makes a full recovery", Mr Beattie said.