Teenagers attacked with iron bars

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Two separate sectarian attacks by loyalists last weekend saw a 15-year-old boy beaten with metal bars in north Belfast while another boy of the same age was clubbed, kicked and punched as he walked home in a separate attack in the same area.

The first attack, on the Oldpark Road near Rosapenna Street, was carried out by two males on the night of Saturday, 23 March. After shouting sectarian comments they set upon their schoolboy victim with iron bars. Just 15 minutes later another boy walking on the Crumlin Road towards Ardoyne suffered a similar attack. He was struck on the face with something that he believes was metal.

On both occasions, the attackers cycled away from their victims, who cannot be named for legal reasons.

“The fellas starting circling them and intimidating them, they were shouting ‘fenian b******s’,” said the mother of one.

“They decided they had to try and get away and started to run. He was a bit behind his friend and the fellas cornered him with their bikes. They told him, ‘Don’t move or we’ll stab you’,” she said.

Her son suffered injuries to his head and face. “I feel sick to my stomach about what could have happened. Imagine if they brought out a knife - he’s very lucky,” she added.

SDLP councillor Paul McCusker said it was ‘very worrying’.

“[The victim] said one of them put his hand into his pocket and he saw a long handle, he freaked out and tried to get away,” he said. “One of them had a knuckle duster on his hand and they were kicking and punching him.”

In a separate incident, a video has been shared on the internet showing soccer supporters singing ‘we hate Catholics’. In the footage, a number of supporters (pictured) of the ‘Northern Ireland’ soccer squad are seen chanting, “We hate Catholics, we hate Roman Catholics” to the tune of Tiffany’s ‘I Think We’re Alone Now’.

The 20-second video was filmed in a bar in south Belfast last Sunday, March 24, following a European Championship match. Sinn Féin assembly member Sinead Ennis said the Irish Football Association (IFA), which manages the team, must take action against supporters singing sectarian abuse.

“The IFA have rightly condemned the actions of these so-called supporters but they also need to ensure that stringent steps are taken to identify and punish those involved,” she said.

“They should be banned by the IFA and reported to the PSNI.” She said there “should be zero tolerance to such disgusting displays of hate”.

“All sectarianism and bigotry of any kind is wrong,” she added. “It needs to be called out and condemned wherever and whenever it manifests itself.

“I am calling on the political leadership of unionism to end the silence and do precisely that. Call it out for what it is and demand an end to it.”

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