Published Sunday, 30 September 2012
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Detectives have launched a murder inquiry after the 47-year-old man sustained fatal head injuries during the assault in the Dromore Street area of the Co Down town at around 12.45am.
Mr Mills, from the Dundrum area, was critically ill when he was taken to hospital. He subsequently died from his injuries.
A 30-year-old man, who was arrested by police after the attack, is being questioned in connection with the murder.
The former Portadown and Lisburn Distillery player was well known in the local area.
Local SDLP Councillor Patsy Toman, who knows the family, said: "This is a terrible day for the whole community."
"The man involved and his family are good people, heavily involved in community and sporting life around Drumaness."
SDLP South Down MP Margaret Ritchie said her thoughts and prayers are with the family "at this awful time".
"This is an incident totally out of keeping with the normally peaceful nature of the town and raises the question of how much community policing is required at nights, particularly over the weekend," she said.
Sinn Féin MLA Chris Hazzard said the local community is in shock.
He said: "This murder last night in Dromore Street, Ballynahinch was a vicious attack and it is hard to understand motives for doing something like this.
"I would call on people to come forward with any information whatsoever to the PSNI and ensure that those responsible are caught and brought before the courts."
Ulster Unionist South Down MLA John McCallister has also expressed his shock, while Down District Alliance Councillor Patrick Clarke described the murder as a tragic loss of human life.
Detectives in Newtownards have appealed for anyone who witnessed the incident to contact them.