A north Down community worker who was assaulted by two masked and armed men in front of his wife and young twins has said “they will not stop me helping the community”.
Aaron McMahon, 45, from Clandeboye in Bangor was attacked at his home at around 4.15pm on Wednesday and taken to hospital for treatment.
He was later released.
A rally was last night held outside Mr McMahon’s home. It was organised by the North Down Community Network, which said it believed the attack was in retaliation for its campaign against paramilitaries.
The DUP and the Green Party also blamed paramilitaries.
A PSNI spokesman said a 32-year-old man had been arrested on suspicion of aggravated burglary but later released on police bail pending further inquiries.
Mr McMahon - who has three children - told the News Letter: “I was at my own work when out of the blue these guys came in and approached me from the back.
“Their timing was immaculate and they obviously have experience in this sort of thing. But it was very unfortunate that my young children - seven year-old twins - and their school friend were there and saw it. It was horrific.
“When your daughter is clinging on to your leg, shaking in hysterics, shouting ‘Daddy, are these bad men coming back, please don’t leave us...’ It was brutal.”
He said his attackers - who were armed with a hammer and a knuckle-duster - shouted ‘you bas****’ before Mr McMahon and “the first one went to the ground which then gave the man behind him free reign with my head and a hammer”.
“I got five or six lacerations and staples on the head.”
The community worker for the Clanbeboye Village Community Association - which said he has never been a member of a paramilitary organisation - believes the attack was carried out by the UDA following his involvement in trying to dissolve paramilitary tension in the area over flags and a community bonfires.
“Today I feel a bit sore – sore but stronger,” he said. “My wife is okay and my twins are at school. As long as I have their support I am okay.
“My focus has been the young people and I am going to keep on doing this. If I ran, what would that say?
“But this (paramilitary control) isn’t just isolated to Clandeboye. Hopefully this will serve as a catalyst for people to stand up and say, ‘enough is enough’.”