Clandeboye community leader Aaron McMahon who was attacked in his home tells loyalist paramilitaries 'enough is enough'
Aaron McMahon stood on his doorstep on Thursday night surrounded by supporters to tell the loyalist paramilitaries terrorising their community: “Enough is enough.”
Just over 24 hours after he was beaten viciously by two hammer-wielding thugs, hundreds of people came together at the scene of the brutal attack in support for the popular Co Down community leader.
Assembly members, councillors and others from across the political spectrum stood with Aaron and the people of Clandeboye village as they promised to stop paramilitary intimidation.
Louise Little, manager of the North Down Community Network, took to the stage with an impassioned speech about how this should bring the community together.
Speeches were interrupted with applause and many carried banners and posters expressing their support for Aaron. Others brought candles and lanterns as they said they wanted to show that light is the way forward.
The crowd cheered and applauded as Ms Little invited Aaron to the microphone. He spent the day recovering at home but came out to greet the crowd with his wife and three children.
He said: “I am humbled by the turnout and I don’t know what to say. This has been going on for far too long. I don’t know what it is that makes it so hard to do good in communities but it has become almost impossible.
“This community deserves better. All communities deserve better. Our young people deserve better.
“What has left a very bitter taste in my mouth is that this area was pretty much left to fend for itself. That’s not good enough. That will never be good enough. Is it OK to have a community that is intimidated through fear?
He added: “Don’t get me wrong; I am frightened. But what does it tell my young people. I will bear the scars of what happened yesterday but what does that tell people when everyone around them has cowed on this. I just hope that things will get better.”
Ms Little explained that there had been an ongoing problem with paramilitary groups in the area for months.
She said that in March, six paramilitary flags went up in the area for the first time and Aaron, along with the other members of Clandeboye Village Community Association came together to bring them down.
She said that paramilitaries had also tried to take over the community bonfire in the summer but local people, like Aaron, stood up and said no.
She said:”It’s not good enough for people to be treated like this in this day and age. This community association has been involved in conversation with council officers, politicians of all levels and any one from a statutory organisation that would listen. I am sorry to say that this far on, there has been a significant lack of action.
“These problems can’t be acceptable. It’s not acceptable that people when they stand together are tortured and intimidated in this way.”
Louise added: “We are encouraged tonight that there are so many people from so many different backgrounds who have seen though these things.
“What is important about tonight is the need to stand together and to recognise whispers and rumours are worthless. The only people we can respect are those who stand face to face like this and state categorically what we believe. Words without actions are absolutely worthless.”