Man arrested after 'sectarian' attack

POLICE have arrested a 25-year-old man after a sectarian assault on two men in their 50s in Rasharkin.

The pair were attacked in the Sunnyside Drive area of the Co Antrim village at around 9pm on Saturday evening.

The PSNI said that two men had been assaulted by two other men, but that inquiries were continuing.

A 56-year-old man suffered cuts to his face and a 51-year-old man suffered cuts to his face and head. Both required medical treatment.

DUP councillor John Finlay condemned what he described as "a brutal attack on two Protestants" in Rasharkin. The incident occurred on Saturday evening outside one of the residents' homes, he said.

"The resident was lured out when several young children threw snowballs at his house," Mr Finlay said.

"He then came out of his home when a mob, waiting on him, attacked him. His friend then sought to pull the mob off him which resulted in one being seriously injured."

Mr Finlay said: "This was a totally unprovoked attack on a Protestant man in Rasharkin and represents a very serious incident.

"This was clearly sectarian. It was clearly organised when a group of children were involved in order to lure this man out of his home.

"I totally condemn this incident. I believe that if this man's neighbours didn't intervene when they did he could have been killed.

"I appeal to anyone with information to bring it forward to the PSNI. It is vital that we get to the bottom of this and bring those responsible through the courts."

Mr Finlay said that last week he led a delegation of residents to meet Justice Minister David Ford in order to see if extra protection could be provided for Protestants living in the village.

"It is clear that additional protection is needed and I call on the minister and PSNI to make this available without delay," the DUP councillor said.

Mr Finlay said that around 20 men had set on the two Protestant men.

"One of them has got a broken rib. Only for some people intervening the two of them would have been kicked to death."

DUP MLA Mervyn Storey said that "the Protestant minority of the village of Rasharkin seem to be excluded from even enjoying this time of the year".

He added: "This was a disgraceful attack and will be rightly condemned by the majority of the people who live in the village.

"Unfortunately, there is a very small core of young people who believe that it is open season against anyone who is a Protestant and that they should be continually attacked, intimidated and assaulted in this way."

TUV leader Jim Allister said: "I welcome the fact that the latest sectarian attack on Protestants in Rasharkin has on this occasion been followed by an arrest."