Belfast councillor 'attacked while trying to stop youths defecating on memorial'
A Belfast city councillor has been allegedly attacked while trying to stop youths defecating on a memorial.
Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) representative John Kyle confronted them at a memorial dedicated to his party's late leader, David Ervine.
A PUP statement said the four youths were filming the incident on their mobile phones.
It said: "As Cllr Dr John Kyle was passing, he asked the thugs what they were doing, at which point one of them fly kicked John off his bike, after which they ran followed by John into the Short Strand.
"This mural has nothing offensive about it. It pays homage to a well-respected man by all sides of the community and four cowardly animals to do this whilst videoing themselves is unforgivable."
The statement said the incident had been reported as a sectarian hate crime.
David Ervine, a former Ulster Volunteer Force member, led the PUP for five years from 2002 until his death in January 2007 and was a key figure in brokering the loyalist paramilitary ceasefire of 1994.
The Police Service of Northern Ireland has confirmed they are investigating a report of an assault on a man in the Albertbridge Road on Sunday morning and a report of attempted criminal damage to a memorial.
Anyone with information is asked to contact police at Strandtown on the non-emergency number 101, quoting reference 470 13/11/16.
Sinn Fein's Niall O Donnghaile has condemned the alleged attack as "disgraceful".
The Irish Senator and former Belfast lord mayor said: "I have today spoken with Dr Kyle on a number of occasions to express our solidarity with him.
"This was a disgraceful attack on a memorial and Councillor Kyle should never have been subjected to what took place this morning."
Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness also voiced his disgust.
He wrote on Twitter: "Disgusted at the attack on PUP @cllrjohnkyle as he confronted those responsible for violating an East Belfast memorial. #unacceptable."
Meanwhile, East Belfast Alliance MLA Chris Lyttle said the incident was inexcusable and should be condemned by all.