26 January 2006

Claim: Altnaveigh member 'assaulted by FAIR rep'

Newry Democrat

**Via Newshound

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

POLICE are investigating a claim that a member of Altnaveigh House was assaulted by a representative of Willie Frazer’s FAIR group, the Democrat has learned.

The incident is alleged to have occurred on Wednesday afternoon during a meeting arranged by the Department of Social Development at Altnaveigh House’s Newry HQ.

It was attended by NIO Minister of State David Hanson and a number of Protestant victims’ groups.

According to a source, a member of Altnaveigh House who was showing a disabled person the way to the bathroom was grabbed by the throat by Kilkeel man Maynard Hanna.

The Democrat made repeated attempts to speak to Mr Hanna but was unable to contact him.

However, Willie Frazer, the director of FAIR, denied that any incident had occurred and claimed the allegation was a smokescreen to hide what he claims is the “hatred” that some members of Altnaveigh House have for his organisation.

“I know nothing about this,” he said. “It certainly didn’t happen in the room where the meeting was held. This is just a ploy by Altnaveigh to draw attention from themselves.

“I don’t know where this took place, if indeed it did take place. It’s unbelievable that people would make allegations like this. Most FAIR members would have been outside before anyone else.

“There were police there and if there had been an assault I’m sure they would have apprehended someone. I’ve spoken to members of the other groups, including someone who came out of the building with Maynard Hanna, and he didn’t see a thing.

“My personal opinion is that this is a smokescreen to try and distract attention from the aggression shown to me by members of Altnaveigh House and their hatred of FAIR.”

Mr Frazer and a number of other members of his group walked out of the meeting amidst what he claimed was confusion about its nature.

A spokeswoman for Altnaveigh House said she would not be making a statement on the situation at this stage, while a representative of the DSD said that it would be ‘inappropriate’ for the Government body to comment.

A PSNI spokesman confirmed that police are aware of an alleged incident in Altnaveigh House and are dealing with it according to the wishes of the person who made the complaint. It is thought unlikely that there will be a prosecution.

Maynard Hanna was the secretary of the Kilkeel branch of the Ulster Unionist Party until it was dissolved in January 2004. At the time, he was quoted as saying that members were disillusioned with the then party leader David Trimble and his policies.

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