Lisburn killing: Organs donated
Sectarian murder condemned

The mother of James McMahon, who was brutally beaten to death last week by three baseball-wielding thugs, gave her permission to hospital medics that her son’s organs could be used to save someone else’s life.

Fr Sean Rogan of St Patrick’s Church in Lisburn, who was with Deirdre McMahon the moment she consented to have her son’s organ donated, said her generosity and courage was overwhelming.

“Deirdre has a love for the sacredness of life and she wanted to preserve life. The people who carried out this murder cared nothing for the sacredness of life and instead wanted to inflict death. The contrast could not be starker.

“Deirdre’s wish that she would like someone else to live to have his organs is in complete contrast to those who were masked and intent on dealing out death. In a so-called Christian society one would expect that citizens would be interested in the sacredness of life from the womb to the tomb.”

The eldest of five children, 21-year-old James McMahon died in hospital after he was beaten with baseball bats by a three-man gang just yards away from his home near the River Lagan last Thursday.

When police and ambulance crews arrived they found him slumped to the ground with severe head injuries. He died the next day in hospital.

Loyalists have since been blamed for the murder, and the PSNI are examining CCTV footage from the Lisburn Island Arts Centre, which overlooks the murder scene.

Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson said he was totally appalled by the murder.

“I know that this murder caused revulsion right across the community in Lisburn. This was an evil deed and I would call on anyone with information to pass it on to PSNI.

“I know that police haven’t yet described James’s murder as sectarian but if it is established that this was the case, I know that it does not represent the attitude or opinions of the vast majority of people in this district.”

Sinn Féin Lagan Valley representative Paul Butler said he believed the motive for James’s death was sectarian.

“This is very much a sectarian attack. It’s clear that another young Catholic has been murdered for no other reason than his religion here.

“In Lisburn Catholics are living in fear and are being intimidated on a regular basis. Many Catholics have even been driven out of their homes and the worrying thing is that Unionist paramilitaries are doing it with impunity. In recent months how many people have been arrested or charged with offences against Catholics? None that I am aware of.

“It’s clear that the PSNI don’t seem committed to solving these crimes, and their record in solving crimes against republicans in Lisburn is appalling.”

In the same area 12 years ago two Catholic men were murdered by loyalists within six months of each other. In March 1991 Francis Taggert, who was 17, was killed by loyalists behind the town’s leisure centre. He was stabbed 62 times in the head, neck and trunk. According to sources then the UVF was responsible.

In August 27-year-old Catholic Martin Watters was attacked by three youths along the bank of the River Lagan as he walked home. He was robbed, beaten and then thrown into the river. Four men were convicted of his death and two were also convicted of UVF membership.

Mr Donaldson added: “None of us want a throwback to the violence of that period. As a community representative I want everyone to know that I will be doing all I can to make sure something as tragic as James’s death doesn’t happen again.”

James McMahon will be buried from St Patrick’s Church on Tuesday at noon. He will be buried at Holy Trinity Cemetery in Longstone Street.

Journalist:: Áine McEntee

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