Sectarian attacks mount
Sectarian attacks mount


A Catholic man attacked for wearing a Gaelic sports jersey in Portadown has told how he was “scared for his life”.

Marty McWilliams was left with injuries to his hand (pictured, left) after being attacked by two men in the County Armagh town around noon on Sunday.

The latest victim of a sectarian attack in the town told the Irish News he was challenged while wearing a ‘Los San Patricios’ Gaelic sports club, Mexico City, jersey as he made his way into a local business in the Mahon Road area around noon on Sunday.

He said his attackers asked: “What are you wearing that f**cking top around here for?”

The father-of-four said one of the men later came into the business and there was an exchange of words before he left.

Mr McWilliams said that when he attempted to return to his car, which was parked nearby, sectarian abuse was hurled at him before he was assaulted.

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 soccer coach told how he feared for his life.

“I was scared for my life because I saw a bottle,” he said. “This should not have happened in 2024,” he added.

Portadown has a history of sectarian violence. 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. The case was recently in the news after a senior police figure was jailed for colluding in a cover-up of the killing.

It is also associated with major conflagrations over coat-trailing Orange Order parades during the 1990s.

Meanwhile, a sailor whose yacht was destroyed after he was the victim of a sectarian assault earlier this month has suffered a seizure in his Derry home following the attack and was treated by paramedics before being rushed by ambulance to Altnagelvin Hospital.

Gary Parke, an electrician from Derry, described how several dozen men with faces covered making their way down to the harbour on the Antrim coast to attack him and his shipmates.

“I realised right away that they were loyalists,” he said. “I’ve never been so frightened in all of my life,” he said.

The owner of the boat, former trawlerman Conor Costello (pictured, right), suffered two black eyes and was also hospitalised. He has been declared homeless as a result of the attack in which his boat was burned out.

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