07 May 2006

BOY CRITICAL AFTER SECTARIAN ATTACK IN BALLYMENA

IAIS

05/07/06 13:46 EST

A 15-year-old Catholic boy is in a critical condition in hospital after being injured in what appears to be an unprovoked sectarian attack in Ballymena, County Antrim. Police described the assault on the teenager as particularly vicious yet have refused to state that the atack was sectarian motivated.

The boy has been named locally as Michael McIlveen who lives in the Dunvale estate. It is believed he had gone to the cinema last night.

He is being treated in the Antrim Area Hospital after suffering what is thought to have been an extensive beating.

The parking lot of a store in the town`s Garfield Street was sealed off while forensic experts carried out a detailed examination of the area.

A Police Service spokeswoman said the motive for the attack was "being investigated" and they would not speculate on claims in the town that it was sectarian.

The teenager is believed to have been on his way home with a group of friends between midnight and 1am when they were targeted.

The group scattered and while the friends escaped he was cornered. It was believed he was beaten with baseball bats and left lying critically injured.

Ballymena is the home constituency of DUP leader, Ian Paisley, and is noted for its violent sectarianism where Catholics make up a small minority of the town's population.

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