In an attack that will go down as the first non sectarian piece of violence in Northern Ireland for over 50 years, James McDonnell of Glassmill Road, Derry, was beaten to within an inch of his life by a gang made up of both Catholics and Protestants yesterday.
Speaking to reporters besides a mural that has been commissioned to mark the historic milestone, the Most Rev Seamus Hegarty, Bishop of Derry said, ‘It shows just how far the Peace Process has come, that both sides of the historical divide can work together like this. If so-called loyalists and nationalists can work together to carry out punishment beatings, then why not gun-running, drug dealing, knee-capping and extortion? It gives you such hope for the future.’
Local politicians were eager to emphasize that McDonnell was not attacked because of his religion, but was beaten up because he was ‘a complete and utter bastard’. ‘McDonnell was a small-time gangster who had made life a misery for over thirty years’ explained the Bishop of Derry. ‘To be honest if they hadn’t done him over with those baseball bats I was planning something similar myself.’ His wife Patricia McDonnell 54 claimed, ‘I don’t know what it is about Jimmy but he just seems to be horrible to the core. Of course we condemn violence in general terms, but just not where my husband is concerned. But all credit to him for bringing the whole community together in this way.’
As one of the architects of the Good Friday Agreement, Tony Blair welcomed the historic breakthrough. Speaking from Jerusalem in his capacity as Middle East Peace Envoy, Mr Blair said he was still working for the day when both Palestinians and Israelis came together to throw stones at the army, before being gunned down by mixed Jewish/Muslim security forces.