Northern Ireland news

Gerry McGeough assault referred to Police Ombudsman

A woman throws a punch at prominent republican Gerry McGeough in Cookstown last Saturday
Connla Young

THE failure of the PSNI to treat an assault on prominent Tyrone republican Gerry McGeough as a hate crime has been referred to the Police Ombudsman.

Doctors told the 63-year-old that he suffered a heart attack after being assaulted during a Pride parade in Cookstown last Saturday.

Mr McGeough was with a group of people who were saying the Rosary and holding a statue of the Virgin Mary when he was approached by a woman and punched in the face.

Footage of the incident was later circulated on social media.

Police said a 44-year-old woman arrested on suspicion of common assault following an incident in the James Street area of Cookstown on Saturday was released pending a report to the Public Prosecution Service.

A spokeswoman later added they are not treating the assault as a hate crime.

Mr McGeough underwent heart surgery last week.

His solicitor Aiden Carlin last night said: "The impact of this hate crime has been far-reaching, causing our client to be hospitalised for five days.

"The perpetrator's actions have also increased fear in the wider Catholic community.

"On this occasion, the police did not meet their key priority which is to ensure that the victim's needs are met.

"Hate crimes can take many forms, including physical assault such as punching.

"Significantly, the PSNI policy confirms evidence is not the test when reporting a hate incident."

A spokesman for the Police Ombudsman's Office said a complaint has been received and is being considered.

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