'Shock and disgust' as members of Pride committee suffer 'vicious homophobic attack' after Newry celebrations
Five people have suffered a "vicious homophobic attack" in Newry following the Pride celebrations at the weekend.
Posting on their Facebook page Pride In Newry said five of their committee members were involved in the incident that happened on Saturday night.
It said: "Our thanks go to the staff and security of Cobbles Newry for phoning the police and the ambulance and for providing CCTV evidence to the authorities. Our thoughts are with those who where injured and their friends and family. I am sure you will join with us in our outrage and wish those involved a speedy recovery.
"This type incident thankfully is rare in Newry but serves as a reminder of the divisions and inequality that still exists in our society. Well done to all those who stood up and marched for equality on Saturday!
"Love will always overcome hate!"
Police are aware of the incident and are treating it as a homophobic hate crime.
A PSNI spokesman said: "We are aware of an altercation in the vicinity of the Mall in Newry at around 2.38am on September 4th. Enquiries are ongoing and the Police investigation continues.
"We take all reports seriously. Where complaints are made to police they will be fully and appropriately dealt with. Two men sustained cuts to their face as a result. The Police Investigation is ongoing. "
Sinn Fein MLA Megan Fearon called the attack a "bitter end to what was a fantastic day".
The Newry and Armagh MLA said:“The homophobic attack on Saturday was shocking and I condemn it outright.
“Those who attended Pride had a fantastic day at the march and at the Pride Ball so it is shocking to hear that five committee members suffered a horrific attack.
“This attack sadly shows that prejudice still exists in some parts of society.
“Sinn Fein are committed to ending prejudice and bringing equality to all citizens across the island.
“I would encourage anyone who has information regarding the attack to contact the police.”
Alliance MLA Paula Bradshaw said she was appaled.
She said: “I and everyone else who participated in Saturday’s parade had a superb day during the event and it was great to see so many people take to the streets of Newry in order to celebrate Pride.
"So it was appalling to hear the contrast of several of the organisers being both verbally abused and physically attacked in what appears to be homophobic assaults.
“My thoughts are with those who were injured in this attack and their loved ones. It is outrageous that people believe such attacks are justified purely because of someone’s sexuality. The thugs behind them offer nothing to our society.
“If anyone has information on these incidents, I urge them to contact the police immediately.”
SDLP Armagh Councillor Pete Byrne voiced his "disgust" at the incident.
He said: “The very essence of Pride is that everyone should be able to hold their head high and be treated with dignity and respect regardless of their sexual orientation.
“Those who committed this heinous crime will not win. Our community has stood strongly together to face down bigots before and we stand together again now. Our resolve will not be diminished by cowardly thugs.
“This once again underscores the urgent need for a robust sexual orientation strategy that challenges homophobic behaviour and supports those who suffer as a result. The LGBT community cannot continue to wait on dawdling Executive Ministers while people are being attacked in the street.
"My thoughts and the thoughts of the SDLP are with those injured as a result of this attack and their families at this distressing time. I would encourage anyone who has any information about this attack to bring it forward to the police as soon as possible.”