Northern Ireland

Councillor claims ‘fear factor’ in town where Catholic man attacked for wearing GAA jersey

Police treating incident as sectarian

Marty McWilliams who was assulted in Portadown. PICTURE: MAL MCCANN
Marty McWilliams was assaulted in Portadown last weekend. PICTURE: MAL MCCANN

A “fear factor” continues to hang over a Co Armagh town with a history of sectarian violence and where a Catholic man was attacked for wearing a GAA jersey last weekend.

Marty McWilliams was left with injuries to his hand after being attacked by two men in the mainly Protestant town around noon on Sunday.

Police say the attack is being treated as a sectarian hate crime.

In 1997 father-of-three Robert Hamill was beaten by a loyalist mob in the town and died in hospital 11 days later from his injuries.

Marty McWilliams who was assulted in Portadown. PICTURE: MAL MCCANN
Marty McWilliams shows his injuries. PICTURE: MAL MCCANN

Portadown has also been at the centre of the bitter Drumcree parade dispute.

The latest victim of a sectarian attack in the town said he was challenged while wearing a Los San Patricios GAA Club, Mexico City, jersey as he made his way into a local business.

Speaking to the Irish News this week the victim told how his attackers asked: “What are you wearing that f**cking top around here for?”

He said one of the men later came into the business and there was an exchange of words before he left.

The 34-year-old said he “defended” himself as the attackers, one of which had a bottle, tried to stop him getting into his car.

He added that when he eventually made it to the vehicle it was targeted causing £3,500 of damage.

Mr McWilliams said he had previously worn GAA tops in the area and is a regular visitor.

The former Cliftonville FC coach said he was “scared for my life because I saw a bottle”.

Sinn Féin councillor Paul Duffy said he has raised the attack with police and concerns that Mr McWilliams has for his safety.

“There’s no place in society for such attacks,” he said. “The behaviour is damaging and there’s no call for it.”

Mr Duffy said that “there’s still a fear factor around Portadown” adding that “there is still an element of fear in certain ends of the town at certain times of the night”.