A Catholic teenager attacked by a sectarian mob in Ballymena has said that he is “lucky to be alive”.
The 17-year-old victim was attacked by six people near the scene of the murder of schoolboy Michael McIlveen in May.
The teenage victim of the latest sectarian assault had to under-go surgery in hospital on a hand injury and received several staples to a head wound.
He said he was left unconscious in the attack as he and other friends sat in a hut in a back garden.
“A lot of Protestants came in and jumped me. I feel lucky I wasn’t killed,” he said last night.
One friend said: “He was lucky he didn’t become the next ‘Micky Bo’ because that area near the Garfield Place car park is where Michael McIlveen was beat up before he died.
“Loyalists were out in a car last night looking to attack a Catholic and other people said they were approached but got away.”
The assault happened just yards from where Michael McIlveen, a 15-year-old Catholic, was cornered and seriously assaulted. He later died from his injuries. Seven men and youths have been charged with the murder.
Police confirmed they are treating the latest assault as sectarian.
North Antrim Sinn Féin MLA Philip McGuigan condemned the attack, which he said highlighted the need for young nationalists to be extremely vigilant in the town.
“It is obvious from this that there are those from within the loyalist community who have not learned from, or worse, have no concern about this activity even after the tragic death of Michael McIlveen.
“I have always said that political leadership, particulary from within the unionist community, is needed to bring this to an end, and that is still quite clearly lacking.”