face punch | 

Woman to face assault charge after former IRA man punched while praying at Pride parade

Mr McGeough (64) said, “It was a punch against the Catholic Church as much as against me personally

Gerry McGeough was assaulted as he stood praying as a Pride parade passed

Suzanne BreenBelfast Telegraph

A woman is to be prosecuted for the assault of an ex-IRA gunrunner who was punched in the face while saying the rosary as an LGBTQ march passed by.

Gerry McGeough was assaulted as he stood with eight men praying and holding a statue of the Virgin Mary as the Pride parade made its way through Cookstown last September.

The former Sinn Fein ard comhairle member has received a letter from the PPS saying a woman is to be charged with unlawful assault.

Mr McGeough (64) told the Belfast Telegraph: “It was a punch against the Catholic Church as much as against me personally. It was an assault on Our Lady and the rosary too. I should be able to go out and pray publicly — as I do — without being attacked and assaulted.”

After he was punched, he described those parading as “glorifying the sin of sodomy” and lambasted his former party for taking part in the event. Footage of the assault circulated widely on social media.

In 2011, Mr McGeough became the first republican jailed for historic offences since the Good Friday Agreement after he was convicted of the 1981 attempted murder of part-time UDR man Sammy Brush. He was released in 2013.

The Mid-Ulster Pride parade was backed by clergy as well as Sinn Fein, the SDLP and People Before Profit. Crowds came out to cheer and support it.

Mr McGeough told Purged.TV: “I’ve been in several prisons across the world for republican activity. A lot of people we see in Sinn Fein today couldn’t be found for love or money when the bullets were being fired way back in the 70s, 80s and 90s.

“Sinn Fein is an anti-Catholic organisation. When I was a member of the Irish republican movement, it was standing by Catholicism especially in places like East Tyrone.”

Mr McGeough joined the East Tyrone Brigade in 1975, aged 16. In 1981, he shot Mr Brush — who also worked as a postman — as he delivered mail in Aughnacloy, Co Tyrone. In 1988, he was arrested crossing the Dutch-German border with weapons in a car. He was charged with attacks on the British Army in the Rhine and held in Germany for four years.

Mr McGeough was then extradited to the US where he was charged with attempting to buy surface-to-air missiles in 1983. After serving three years in American jails, he was deported to the Republic in 1996. He became a prominent Sinn Fein figure and was national director of its ‘No To Nice’ campaign. He later left the party in protest at its abortion stance.

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