Friends of attacked sports star rally round to raise funds

FRIENDS of a Co Sligo businessman who suffered severe head injuries in an unprovoked attack on a trip to Belfast are to rally around their colleague.

Paul Newton’s life hung by a thread when he was set upon outside his hotel after attending the Connacht versus Ulster rugby match on April 11.

The 43-year-old former intercounty footballer has since made good progress towards living a normal life again, and now his friends — including many from the world of sport — have launched a big fundraising drive.

“As a result of this attack, and given the fact that Paul will have to undergo intensive rehabilitation and therapy, it is uncertain when he will be able to return to work. To assist him and his family over this traumatic and expensive period, we have initiated these fundraising ventures,” said friend Kevin Molloy.

The Newtons are one of the leading sports families in the west of Ireland. Paul’s father JP played for Leitrim senior footballers while his brothers Des (Roscommon and Donegal) and John (Roscommon) were top footballers during the 1980s.

“Paul played a number of games for Sligo, and his 14-year-old daughter recently played for Sligo — that’s three generations of the family who have played intercounty football,” added Mr Molloy.

“We intend, over the coming weeks and months, to hold a number of fundraising events.

“We are accepting one-off donations, monthly standing orders, and memorabilia for a fundraising auction, plus we are also running a draw that we’d like people to support.”

There were grave fears for Mr Newton after the attack and his family maintained a vigil during the first few weeks when he was hospitalised in Belfast.

His wife Margaret made a heartfelt plea for witnesses to the attack to come forward, but no arrests have been made.

“He went for a takeaway and was returning to his hotel when he was the victim of an assault,” she said at the time.

“He fell and his head struck the pavement. Hotel staff alerted the emergency services. The PSNI are doing everything possible and we want to thank everybody who is helping us.”

Lodgments can be made to the following AIB account: (93 72 58) 21241056, and more details are available on http://stmarys.sligo.gaa.ie.


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