Dublin children as young as 12 years of age have been subjected to a terrifying sectarian attack while attending a high profile youth soccer tournament in Coleraine, County Derry.
There have been calls for a review of hate-crime legislation after two youth football teams from Dublin taking part in the Milk Cup in had to be evacuated following a loyalist mob assault.
A block of apartments being used by Crumlin United from Dublin on Monday evening came under siege when bottles, cans of beer, bricks and other missiles were thrown at the children, most of whom were in their early teens.
The attack followed sectarian comments being made to some of the young players earlier in the day.
Crumlin and a second Dublin team, Cherry Orchard, had to be moved to an alternative accommodation.
Organisers said the footballers were terrified by the attack.
“It all happened at around 10 o’clock,” said Paul Hammond from Crumlin United.
“We were all in the courtyard and we told the players to get into the front of the house. They started throwing bricks, poles, blocks and lots of things.
“They were shouting things like ‘IRA scum’, ‘why don’t you go back down south?’ and ‘fenian bastards’.”
The houses where both teams were staying are close to the loyalist Ballyfally Estate.
Spokesman for the Milk Cup, Jim Sandford said it was the first time there has been such an incident in 26 years.
In a separate incident, a ten-year-old boy was knocked to the ground in Derry and kicked in the head after being asked if he was a “taig” [Catholic].
The child escaped serious injury only because a passer-by had intervened.
The attack by a group of loyalist youths took place in the city’s Waterside area on Monday as he and two friends aged 10 and 12 were queuing outside a leisure centre.
According to his mother, the children were asked by a group of youths if they were ‘taigs’ but they didn’t know the word.
“They [the attackers] asked if they were Catholics and they said ‘aye’ and they chased them over to the petrol station at Tesco’s where the boy - who was about 16 or 17 - grabbed my boy, kneed him in the stomach, got him to the ground and let fly boots into his head,” she said.