'Homophobic element' to firework incident

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

'Homophobic element' to firework incident thumbnailTHE firework which was pushed through Damien McShane’s letterbox, and some of the scorch damage caused.

POLICE in Newry are investigating an incident of criminal damage where a householder had a firework pushed through his letterbox.

The incident happened on Halloween night at the Carlingford Park home of Mr Damian McShane.

And speaking exclusively to the Newry Democrat, Mr McShane, who is a former chairperson of the Newry Rainbow Community, said that there were also a homophobic element to the incident.

"It started off with a young enough child throwing an egg at the wall, I saw them running away and I passed it off as just a Halloween prank," said Damian.

"But about an hour later, there was an unmerciful kick at the front door, and I went out but I couldn't see anybody.

"It also happened to the neighbour next door - somebody kicked their door at the same time.

"Then about a half an hour later that, there was a repeater firework thrown through the letterbox into the hall of my house.

"It went off repeatedly. It just kept banging. I ran straight out through the front door. At that point I saw about 20 or 30 of them running across towards Toragh Park.

"I gave chase, but they were too fast for me. I'm 52, they were in their 20s or maybe even younger.

"And when I was chasing them, they started shouting names at me, and in amongst the names, I heard them calling me a f****** and a queer b*****d and a gay b*****d.

"It was at that point that I realised that this was no longer a Halloween prank. It sounds very much like I was targeted".

Damian reported the matter to police, who told him that the matter would be treated as a criminal damage incident, although he made it clear to them that there had also been homophobic abuse hurled at him.

He also said that, in his 14 years living in the area, he has never experienced anything like this before.

"I have brilliant neighbours, beside me, behind me and around the whole place," he said.

"Even the young people, I get on great with them.

"When I went out later on that night, I was talking to a few of them and they said to me that there was a lot of these people in the estate that weren't from the estate at all. They came from other areas of the town so they hadn't a clue who they were".

Asked what he would say to those responsible for the nasty attack, Damian said he would tell them to "wise up".

"[I would tell them to] wise up and catch a grip of yourselves," he said.

"We all have families, including them. They wouldn't like it done on their own homes".

The Democrat contacted the PSNI in relation to this matter and a police spokesperson confirmed that police in Newry received a report of criminal damage at a property in the Carlingford Park area of the city at around 9pm on Tuesday evening, (October 31).

Inspector Denise Graham said: "We believe that eggs were thrown at the house and a firework put through the letter box. As a result, damage was caused to the interior of the property.

"We are asking anyone who was in the area at the time and saw anything that could help with our investigation into this incident to contact police in Newry on 101 quoting reference 1563 of 31/10/17.

"Information can also be given anonymously through the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111."


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