DERRY JOURNAL Editorial: Attack on Emmet Doyle appalling

The assault on Aontú councillor Emmet Doyle at the end of last week was appalling.

Injuries sustained by Councillor Emmet Doyle in an assault last week.
Injuries sustained by Councillor Emmet Doyle in an assault last week.

Hopefully the PSNI can bring those who were responsible for the attack before the courts sooner rather than later.

No citizen should have to run the gauntlet of physical violence while visiting our city centre. The fact that Councillor Doyle is a local political representative gives the attack which occurred after he left a fast food outlet in the Waterloo Street area early last Friday morning an added, sinister dimension.

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Colr. Doyle has gone on the record to state that it is his belief that it was hostility towards his stance on abortion which precipitated the assault. For their part the PSNI have said they are still investigating the incident and that anyone with information about what occurred should contact them today.

If Colr. Doyle is correct it sets a very worrying precedent. Political representatives, least of all local councillors, should not have to face the prospect of physical attack while going about their daily business - representing their constituents or otherwise.

People may disagree strongly on political issues but there are ways and means of expressing these differences. To resort to violence is criminal, put simply. Abuse of politicians, particularly women politicians of all persuasions, via social media, has been a growing phenomenon over the past 15 years.

It can have a chilling effect, discouraging people from becoming involved in public life and leading to mental health issues. That Mr. Doyle suffered two black eyes, cuts and bruises, in an actual physical assault was especially alarming. It simply cannot be tolerated.

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Voltaire’s declaration, ‘I may not agree with what you have to say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it,’ is a maxim of free speech that should be upheld by all in any healthy democratic culture.

And if people disagree with the political views or beliefs of public representatives they will have an opportunity to vote against them in local government elections next May. In the meantime, we wish Councillor Doyle a full and speedy recovery from his injuries.