A 21-year-old chef has had to receive 17 stitches in his neck following a sectarian attack by loyalists.
Paul McGrattan, who works in the five-star Merchant Hotel in Belfast, was returning home from a night out when he was attacked with broken glass at a notorious interface.
The 21-year-old said there was “most definitely” a sectarian motive to the attack by a gang of loyalists from the Newtownards Road area.
Mr McGrattan, speaking from his home in the nearby nationalist Short Stand area of east Belfast, said he had been out with friends when the horrific attack happened on Tuesday shortly before midnight.
“I’d been to Frames with a few friends for a few games of pool,” he said.
“We were walking home and went into the train station to the toilet and then when we came out we crossed over to St John’s Close and met these two fellas.
“They were asking us where we were from and stuff but they seemed OK and we walked with them for about 10 minutes. They said they were going to the Newtownards Road.
“When we got to the Short Strand, they suddenly sprinted forward and then one of them turned round and threw a pint glass right at me.
“It almost knocked me out, I fell to the floor.
“My friends started to run after them but then they realised how bad I was that they turned back.”
Mr McGrattan suffered serious injuries to his neck and face and was rushed to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast where he received 17 stitches.
He was due to receive further medical assessment this week.
Asked why he believed he had been attacked, he said: “It was definitely because of where I lived, that’s the reason they did this.”
MUSLIMS, POLES ALSO TARGETED
Meanwhile, loyalists have also continued to carry out racist attacks. It follows last week’s anti-Muslim comments by DUP leader Peter Robinson and Pastor James McConnell.
Public apologies by the two men this week failed to prevent two Pakistani men from being beaten in a racist attack on Monday in north Belfast
The victims have packed up and said they are now planning to leave the north of Ireland.
The assault and robbery of two Polish teenagers in Ormeau park in south Belfast last weekend is also being treated as a hate crime. It comes as Polish flags have again appeared atop loyalist bonfires in a traditional gesture of intimidation.
A second anti-racism march is taking place this Saturday through the streets of central Belfast. The march is planned for 2pm with marchers asked to gather from 1:30pm in Writers’ Square in the city.