26/11/2009

McDowell Beaten At Festive Market

There was again little sign of festive cheer last night as a newspaper editor was badly beaten by a gang outside Belfast City Hall.

Sunday World's northern editor Jim McDowell was beaten to the ground and kicked about the head in an attack that occurred in the middle of the busy Continental Market.

Four men attacked the journalist who was beaten on the head and body and treated in hospital for a bleeding ear and bruising.

The attack happened less than a fortnight after supporters of four loyalists accused of murdering Sunday World journalist Martin O'Hagan smashed up McDowell's car.

That vandalism happened while McDowell was inside Craigavon Court House attending a bail hearing for the men facing charges connected to the O'Hagan murder.

Yesterday evening, Mr McDowell was singled out as he went to a portable toilets behind the stalls.

It happened just a day after a sectarian 'mini-riot' erupted just after the switching on of the city's Christmas lights.

South Belfast MP Dr Alasdair McDonnell has condemned the attack: "This was a vicious attack on Jim McDowell by cowardly thugs.

"The reason for this brutal assault is simple. These thugs and criminals torment and torture local communities.

"Jim and journalists like him, stand up to and expose these lowlifes so the people of Northern Ireland know exactly who they are and what they do.

"The thuggish criminals can't handle people knowing the truth and so their response is to attack and intimidate those who pursue the truth," he said this morning.

(BMcC/GK)

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