Tuesday, May 09, 2006
NORTHERN IRELAND: "THIS IS THE RESULT"
A Catholic schoolboy attacked by a unionist mob in the County Antrim town of Ballymena has died of his injuries (see yesterday's OD for further information). The victim, who was on a life-support machine last night succumbed to his injuries and died in hospital as his family maintained a bedside vigil.
Sinn Fein MLA Philip McGuigan expressed his sympathy to the family and commented, "This murder was unjustifiable and was motivated entirely by sectarian hatred and bigotry.
"I was in Ballymena last night and there remains much anger at the events of the weekend and indeed at the years of discrimination and inequality which led directly to the circumstances which gave rise to this horrific crime.
"The catholic community in Ballymena have as much right as anyone else to live, worship and conduct business in that town as any other group. Unfortunately there are those within unionism in the town who have for decades sought to demonise and discriminate against nationalists and republicans in Ballymena.
Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams added, "I want to express my condolences and sympathies to the family of Michael McIlveen. He is the latest victim of sectarian hatred. Sectarianism is rampant in our society. It has to be tackled.
"The key to ending sectarianism is in the hands of political and civic leaders. Political leaders need to work together to challenge those who prefer the old ways. Achieving this means not just ending sectarianism on our streets but also adopting the implementation of policies which can eradicate deep rooted sectarianism and discrimination wherever it exists."
The first article below is from the Irish News. The second is from the Belfast Telegraph. The third is a statement from the 32 County Sovereignty Movement
Don’t Let This Happen Again Plead Murdered Boy’s Family
THE heartbroken family of murdered Catholic Michael McIlveen (15) wanted this picture (see accompanying picture), taken minutes after he died, published as a stark message of what sectarianism can do.
Michael lost his fight for life last night after being
savagely att-acked in Ballymena, Co Antrim, early on
Last night his life-support mach-ine was switched off.
His distraught family – mother Gina, his younger brother,
and two sisters – were at his bedside, inconsolable.
Michael’s uncle gently kissed his forehead – his nephew’s
bed in the intensive care unit of Antrim Area Hospital
surrounded by those who loved him.
It was screened off but such was the outpouring of grief
that other patients in the small ward were only too aware
that a mother had been robbed of a son on the cusp on
The teenager, who only last week proudly stood as godfather
to his sister’s new baby, was singled out for no other
reason than being a Catholic.
Desperate that no-one else suffers, his family last night
pleaded for an end to sectarianism.
Another uncle explained why the family wanted Michael’s
“We just want to show people out there what happens when
gangs on both sides roam about – this is the result,” he
“We want politicians, especially in Ballymena, to get their
fingers out and get something done be-fore somebody else is
“He was just 15, just 15. He was a quiet wee teenager. His
mother is devastated.
“He stood for his sister's baby last week. Now he is dead.
It is such a waste.”
Michael was battered by a gang – at least one brandishing a
baseball bat – just minutes after buying a takeaway pizza.
He was set upon outside a house in Granville Drive at
Despite being repeatedly beat-en, Michael managed to
struggle home, where the full extent of his injuries was
realised and he was rushed to hospital.
Last night four men and a juvenile were being quizzed by
One of the suspects is reported to have been a Catholic.
Streets of fear
'It was only a matter of time before something like this happened and I just pray there won't be any more bloodshed'
By Debra Douglas
09 May 2006
In recent years, the bustling town of Ballymena has been plagued with sectarian attacks including a spate of petrol and paint bombings last summer.
But last weekend, simmering tensions reached boiling point, and a Catholic teenager was seriously injured in a brutal attack. Last night Michael McIlveen died of his injuries.
According to Delia Close, an Independent member of Ballymena's District Policing Partnership, the police had warned about clashes between groups of young people last year.
Senior officers warned that if the community did not address the issue, someone would lose their life. Now they are dealing with the murder they feared would happen.
It seemed it was only a matter of time before an attack ended with a tragic fatality.
Only a few weeks ago, a man sustained a punctured lung after being stabbed during a serious sectarian incident involving about 20 youths in a shopping centre in the town.
A 17-year-old was charged with disorderly behaviour and assaulting the 16-year-old brother of the stabbing victim.
The court heard that during the week before the attack, gangs of youths from both sections of the community "had been roaming around".
A police officer told the court that on the Friday night before the stabbing, a number of nationalists were arrested after a loyalist was headbutted at Cameron's car park and that loyalist youths "were out looking for retaliation" the next night.
Several weeks later, and only yards away from where the loyalist was headbutted, Michael McIlveen was set upon by a gang following an altercation at a nearby cinema, and after days hooked up to a life-support machine, he tragically died.
Hours after Michael was attacked, a 45-year-old man suffered head wounds after being attacked in the Dunclug area of Ballymena in what police believe was a linked incident.
Locals passing the scene of the violent attack said they weren't surprised by what happened.
Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph as a police helicopter hovered above, one resident, who asked not to be named, said: "It was only a matter of time before something like this happened and I just pray there won't be any more bloodshed on our streets. The police need to get to the bottom of this and sort it out.
"Ballymena has got a reputation as a trouble spot now and is it any wonder with things like this going on."
But the town's DUP Mayor, Tommy Nicholl, said efforts had been made to try and prevent the simmering tensions reaching the boiling point they now appear to be at.
"We have been concerned about the situation for some time but, sadly, it has come to the point now where a teenager has been killed," he said.
"Last summer, we had petrol bomb attacks on schools, churches and other places and I decided through the Mayor's initiative to look at some way of improving the situation.
"I have taken a number of steps, including bringing the clergy together to see if they can exercise influence over the local community along with the PSNI.
"I felt we were moving in the right direction. We're getting the red, white and blue paint removed from the kerbs in Harryville and the mural depicting paramilitary groups has been removed as part of a good relations strategy.
"We are doing everything we can to deal with the issue of sectarianism and try and eradicate it, but there is more to be done.
"I want to bring the people of Ballymena together and have a society where everybody respects one another's point of view."
Factions urged to 'draw back from the brink'
A Co Antrim community was last night urged to "draw back from the brink" following the killing of a 15-year-old schoolboy in a brutal sectarian attack.
As family and friends last night mourned the death of Michael McIlveen, politicians on both sides of the political divide in Ballymena called for calm.
The town's DUP Mayor, Tommy Nicholl, said it was vital those with influence within the community did everything in their power to resolve the current situation.
"I would say to anyone with influence over those people concerned to get them to draw back from the brink, sit down and consider what it is they are doing," he told the Belfast Telegraph.
North Antrim MP Ian Paisley labelled the attack on MIchael as "horrific" and said "that those who have been responsible for this must have the full rigour of the law applied to them".
Ulster Unionist councillor James Currie called for a zero- tolerance approach to all sectarian attacks.
"I offer my deepest sympathies to the family of this young teenager," he said.
"I am confident that those responsible for this attack will be brought to justice by the police. The police have been active in their approach to halt such incidents and they are doing a very good job in maintaining this to a minimum.
"There is no place for this type of behaviour within our society and I hope that the police employ a zero-tolerance approach to show others that these crimes will not be tolerated."
Sinn Fein Assembly member Philip McGuigan said: "My thoughts are with the family at this time.
"Tensions have been high in the town and have now escalated to the point where a young man has been killed.
"Everyone has a part to play in ensuring these sort of attacks are brought to an end for the good of all the community."
SDLP assembly member Declan O'Loan also said tensions had been high recently.
"There's no point shirking the unpleasant fact that this murder was a sectarian act of the most horrendous nature," he added.
Earlier yesterday, Secretary of State Peter Hain issued a stern pledge to catch those responsible for the attack on Michael.
"This is an awful sectarianism which harks back to Northern Ireland's dark and brutal past. We are going to work to hunt down those responsible and make sure this kind of thing does not happen again," he said.
Press Release: 32 County Sovereignty Movement
Contact: Andy Martin Director of Publicity
Phone 07742439449 or e-mail email@example.com
Nationalist concerns grow as murder highlights police inaction in Ballymena.
The 32 County Sovereignty Movement extend our deepest sympathies to the family of Michael McIlveen following his Murder at the hands of Loyalists in Ballymena. Michael was attacked by a Loyalist gang wielding baseball bats and severely beaten in Garfield place and tragically died on Monday evening as a result of this sectarian attack.
Three witness who gave statements to the police on Monday were visited within a matter of hours by the RUC/PSNI whoinformed them that their lives were under threat from Loyalists and then asked them did they want to retract their statements. The 32 County Sovereignty Movement view the behaviour of the police with alarm given the timescale between the statements being given and the death threats received. How did these Loyalists know statements had been taken and the identities of those who had made the statements? This follows equally worrying behaviour on Sunday evening following the attack when local republicans were in the area trying to calm tensions. A group of Loyalists armed with Stanley knives and claw hammers entered a street where the republicans were visiting relatives of Michael McIlveen. Local residents took a number of hurling sticks from some children who were playing in the street presumably to defend thmselves at which point the RUC/PSNI arrived in the street and surrounded the nationalists. When nationalist residents protested and pointed out that there were armed Loyalists still in the street the police told them that they would deal with that after they had dealt with them, when it was pointed out that the nationalist residents had done nothing a further five landrovers of police in riot gear entered the street and stood outside the house, again ignoring the loyalists who calmly made their way out of the area unhindered.
Recently a man who was stabbed by a gang of up to thirty Loyalists who rampaged through a shopping centre in Ballymena was charged with assault and affray, presumably for trying to defend himself while those who attacked him got away scott free.
The murder of Michael McIlveen is the latest in a litany of attacks by Loyalists in Ballymena and the lack of action by the police illustrates perfectly that despite cosmetic changes they are still a sectarian police force. Ballymena town centre is still a no go area for nationalists who live in constant fear of attack both in the town and within nationalist areas. The police appear unwilling or unable to protect nationalists and recent events have confirmed that the RUC/PSNI are, at the very least, turning a blind eye to Loyalist aggression in Ballymena. The 32 County Sovereignty Movement call on nationalists to remain vigilant and to unite to defend themselves from attacks by pro British death squads both in and out of uniform.