Belfast Telegraph

Twitter row over poppy led to sectarian hammer attack by Derry thug

By Eamonn Macdermott

Comments made by a then-Premiership footballer from Londonderry on Twitter about the wearing of Remembrance Day poppies sparked a sectarian hammer attack on a man, a court has been told.

Paul McGarrigle (42), of Foyle Crescent in Newbuildings, admitted a series of charges including attempted grievous bodily harm with intent in relation to the incident that occurred on December 22, 2012.

Defence barrister Michael Boyd said his client had been involved in voluntary work for the past 10 years.

He said that what had sparked the incident were comments made by a Premiership footballer from Derry, understood to be Wigan player James McClean, on Twitter about the wearing of the poppy which had caused “consternation among the accused and his friends”.

He said that McGarrigle went to challenge the injured party about these comments and it descended into violence.

The court was told that the injured party had recently moved into a new property with two friends and held a housewarming party.

Around 2am a group of men arrived outside the house and used a hammer to gain entry.

They then made sectarian comments with the defendant saying: “You fenian b******. He's a fenian living in Bond Street.”

The injured party stood up and was punched by McGarrigle and fell to the ground. When he tried to get up he was struck by McGarrigle with a hammer on the head.

While lying on the ground he was subjected to kicks and punches, although not all the assaults were carried out by the defendant.

McGarrigle was remanded in custody and he will be sentenced on January 17.

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