09 May 2006

Tension and disbelief on estate’s streets

Daily Ireland

By Connla Young

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usFear stalked the streets around the home of sectarian attack victim Michael McIlveen yesterday as the 15-year-old lost his battle for life in a Co Antrim hospital last night.
Family and friends of the Saint Patrick’s College pupil held a vigil at his bedside since he was taken to Antrim Area Hospital in the early hours of Sunday.
The teenager suffered serious head injuries during a sectarian assault as he made his way through the centre of Ballymena at 12.30am on Sunday.
Family members say he was beaten about the head with a baseball bat while a gang of up to a dozen loyalist youths jumped on his head.
The PSNI was treating the attack as attempted murder, but that’s expected to be upgraded to a fully fledged murder inquiry.
Tension has been high in the teenager’s home estate, Dunclug, since the savage assault.
On Sunday night dozens of young men gathered on the streets around Michael’s home after the PSNI flooded into the area.
The scene was very different yesterday morning as Dunclug residents woke up to find that Michael had made it through the night despite grim predictions from medical experts, but any hope was dashed last night.
Shock, mixed with foreboding, has fuelled a sense of dread in local residents
Empty streets gave an indication of the fear and gloom that has descended on the district.
For years locals have complained that they are the target of constant sectarian attacks, while elected representatives warned that someone might be killed if the attacks continue
Many Dunclug residents refused to put their names to comments made to several media outlets yesterday.
One frightened resident said it was too dangerous to be seen publicly condemning a brutal attack on an innocent neighbour.
“People can’t use their names. If they do they will be identified as a Catholic the next time they go into town. That’s how bad it is,” she said.
Project manager at Dunclug Partnership Colum Best said the community was filled by a sense of disbelief.
“People have a feeling that this is unbelievable, the whole community is devastated,” he said.
The community development worker said there were concerns locally about how local politicians have approached the attack on Michael McIlveen.
“My concern is that there politicians who in a situation like this are trying to score points about what should be done and what isn’t being done.”

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