Man quizzed after attack leaves band member fighting for his life
A man is in a critical condition in hospital with serious head injuries after being attacked after a loyalist band parade in Ballymoney.
Ray Laverty (25) from Dervock is a flag carrier with Dervock Young Defenders, who were one of more than 50 bands at a major parade hosted by Dunloy Accordion Band.
A disco was held at the Manor Hotel in Ballymoney after the parade and around 1.30am on Sunday there was a disturbance in a car park at Castle Street which led to Mr Laverty receiving serious injuries.
A 22-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of causing grievous bodily harm and yesterday was in custody assisting police with their inquiries.
A friend from Dervock said: "Ray is well known in the village here and is very friendly and would not pass you without saying hello. There was a fight involving people connected with the parade and his father Nigel is up in Belfast at the hospital. Ray is in a coma. Everybody is praying that he pulls through."
A Belfast Health Trust spokeswoman said Mr Laverty was in the intensive care unit at the Royal Victoria Hospital and was "critical".
A Dervock Young Defenders spokesperson said on Facebook: "Today we are thinking of our member Ray Laverty who is laying up in the Royal Victoria Hospital with serious head injuries after sustaining a serious assault last night after the parade. Our thoughts are with you and your family and we wish a speedy recovery.
"Anyone with any information please come forward."
Ballymoney-based North Antrim DUP MLA and Social Development Minister Mervyn Storey said: "Our thoughts and prayers are with the young man and his family at time.
"This was not the way the evening in Ballymoney should have ended. It is a tragedy for all involved. The people in the town are shocked by the incident. This town is a good place to live, work and socialise. I trust those responsible will be brought to justice.
"I would appeal to anyone with any information that can help the PSNI with their inquiry to do so."
Councillor Darryl Wilson, the Ulster Unionist deputy mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, said on social media: "Wishing Ray Laverty a speedy recovery. He stopped with me last night for a chat, great young fella. In my prayers."
PSNI Detective Sergeant Chris Wilkinson said: "There were a large number of people in the area at the time and I am appealing for anyone who witnessed the assault or anyone with any information that could assist the police investigation to contact detectives at Coleraine Police Station on the non-emergency number 101.
"Information can also be passed anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111."