A man beaten unconscious in a suspected random sectarian attack has been told by doctors his facial injuries are permanent.
Ciaran Ferrin was attacked as he walked near a north Belfast interface which has been the focus of two months of loyalist intimidation and violence.
The 23-year-old was making his way home along Brompton Park in the nationalist Ardoyne area after a night out with his girlfriend to celebrate getting a new job. Mr Ferrin was attacked by three men who had been seen ‘cruising’ the area in a silver saloon car.
He said he remembers the car passing him before turning and coming back towards him.
“I stopped to light up a cigarette and saw the car stopping and the passenger door opening and one man got out and said something to my girlfriend,” he said.
“I can’t remember much after that. I was hit and knocked unconscious.
“The surgeon said I must have been hit with something metal, that a fist wouldn’t have done that amount of damage to my face.
“I’ve two metal plates in one side, my jaw is wired and they pulled out seven teeth to fix the damage.
“The nerve damage is permanent and the doctor told me I’ll have no feeling in parts of my mouth and face.”
The attackers fled after people nearby came to Mr Ferrin’s aid.
In 2007 Mr Ferrin’s brother Niall was left with a brain injury after a sectarian attack at Cliftonpark avenue during which he had a wire placed around his neck before being dragged along the road. In 2011 the 19-year-old took his own life.
Also this week, it was reported that a UVF leader in east Belfast ordered the brutal shooting of a 24-year-old woman following a private dispute. Jemma McGrath was shot five times in the lower abdomen, left arm and both legs by a man wielding a handgun on Wednesday night.
The young woman had a close relationship with the loyalist leader and a recent fallout is believed to have been the motive for the attack. Her injuries were described by the PSNI as “not life-threatening”.
Ciaran’s mother Patricia Ferrin said the PSNI had confirmed that a gang of men seen acting suspiciously about 30 minutes before her son was assaulted were suspects. They are assumed to be loyalists.
“When I heard about the attack I felt like history was repeating itself,” she said. “I thought, please God, you took one son from me - don’t take another one.”