Calls for PSNI presence in Belfast city centre after man left fighting for life
Fears have been expressed over the safety of late-night visitors to Belfast city centre following an incident that has left a 54-year-old man battling for his life.
The man was discovered with serious head injuries on Easter Sunday morning outside McDonalds at the corner of Donegall Place and Castle Place at about 12.30am.
Last night his condition was described as serious and he is being treated in the intensive care unit of the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast.
It is believed that he was involved in what police described as an altercation with another man at the doorway of the fast food outlet.
A man in his 20s was arrested afterwards in connection with the incident but was later released on police bail pending further inquiries.
The area has become known as a spot where many people congregate late at night over the weekend as they leave bars, clubs and restaurants, as it is open 24 hours.
City councillor Declan Boyle condemned the incident and called on increased policing at this area and other parts of the city where revellers gather in large numbers.
"This is a serious incident and not something we want Belfast to be known for," said the SDLP councillor for the Botanic ward.
"This part of the town has been well-known as a trouble spot as people gather there late at night.
"While I don't know if drink was a factor in this incident, broadly speaking when large groups of people gather like this at this time of night, then they have been drinking and trouble can occur unfortunately.
"There has to be an increased police presence in this area and the like of Shaftesbury Square so that if any trouble does happen, then the police can intervene."
And the SDLP man added: "This happened around 12.30 on Sunday morning and there must have been witnesses to how the man was injured and I would appeal for witnesses to come forward.
"I hope that the man recovers and the city retains its reputation as a safe place to visit."
North Belfast DUP councillor Brian Kingston also condemned the incident.
"We have been made aware by city centre management that this area which corners with Castle Place has seen several assaults over recent times," said Mr Kingston.
"I know that there have been some efforts to improve the situation by asking the SoS Bus to have a presence there but people need to feel that it's okay to go out in Belfast and get home safely."
Witnesses have been asked to come forward following the altercation. Detective Sergeant Dolores Black said: "I am appealing to anyone who was in the area at the time and who may have witnessed the incident to contact detectives at Musgrave on 101. Information can also be given anonymously through Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111."