Politicians have condemned an assault on Denis Bradley, the Vice-Chairman of the Northern Ireland Policing Board.

Mr Bradley was hit on the head several times by a masked man armed with a baseball bat in a pub in the Brandywell area of Derry last night.

The policing board member was watching a soccer match on television when the attacked happened shortly before 10pm. 

Dissident republicans are suspected of carrying out the attack. Mr Bradley's condition is not said to be serious. 

'Unjustifiable'

Ulster Unionists described the attack as unjustifiable, while Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness said Mr Bradley's membership of the policing board did not warrant an attack on him or his family.

The Alliance Party said the assault was not only against Mr Bradley but also against free speech.

Police who were called to the scene were attacked with petrol bombs and one man was arrested.

The Chairman of the Northern Ireland Policing Board, Sir Desmond Rea, said: 'I am shocked and appalled at news of this vicious attack on Denis and my thoughts are first and foremost with him and his family.

'I am sure that I speak on behalf of every member of the board and its staff in roundly condemning this totally unwarranted attack,' he said.

Mr Bradley has been the target of several threats and attacks since he joined the policing board. Last year, his home was petrol bombed in an incident linked to his stance on policing.