Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 April 2014

Terri Hooley's sadness at assault by bigot while walking dog

Terri Hooley

Punk godfather Terri Hooley has told of his shock and sadness after he was assaulted at the weekend while out walking his dog.

The 63-year-old was shoved and verbally abused by two men at the Comber Greenway on Saturday afternoon.

Hooley, well-known for steering young people away from sectarianism during the height of the Troubles, was left nursing a sore shoulder following the incident.

It comes less than a fortnight before the unveiling of a plaque by Belfast City Council to recognise his contribution to music and amid a blaze of publicity surrounding biopic, Good Vibrations.

Terri said: “I was out walking the dog around 5pm on Saturday near North Bridge at the Comber Greenway when it happened.

“These two men appeared out of nowhere, and the older of the two shoved me hard, calling me a ‘Fenian lover' and saying I was a ‘disgrace to Protestants’.

“The younger of the two just kept staring at me and I got the feeling he was just getting ready to pounce.

“I was too shocked to say anything, and I have to admit it was pretty frightening. Then a woman I know came over to see if I was OK and the two men skulked off.”

Terri said he had tried to shake off the incident at first but decided to report it to police.

“It's just made me feel quite sad that this type of thing can still happen,” he said.

“I know it could have been a lot worse. But it's sad that bigotry still exists here.

“I was attacked outside my shop in September four years ago. I thought we'd moved on since then.

“But everyone knows I love this city and I'm certainly not going to let this affect how I feel. There are too many great people out there.”

Stuart Bailie of the Oh Yeah Music Centre and co-ordinator of Belfast Music Week hit out at the “boneheads” behind the assault.

“It has taken years for the city of Belfast to give Terri the respect due to him and it's terribly ironic that this has happened just as people are taking stock of the great things he has done for this place,” he said.

“For many years Terri has been leading us away from sectarianism and the idea that people take exception to this leaves me angry and sad.

“Part of the problem is that the movie has raised Terri's profile, and while 98% of people out there are happy to share his moment of recognition, unfortunately 2% of boneheads are not.”

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