‘I thought sectarian attacks were a thing of the past’

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A 16-year-old boy was attacked on Wednesday by a number of youths in the Lower Oldpark area of Belfast in an anti-Catholic hate crime.

The Ardoyne teenager was going for a walk with his girlfriend when he was assaulted by a group of loyalists who shouted ‘don’t come back near our area’ as he fled.

Shane McAlinden was left bleeding from head injuries he suffered when around eight to ten males, understood to be in their late teens or early twenties, set upon him.

It is understood the group who attacked Shane were part of a larger group of around 20 people some of whom are said to have shouted towards him and his girlfriend asking where they were from. Seconds later he was assaulted.

Shane’s mother Emma McAlinden said her son was taken to hospital where he was told he had suffered a concussion.

She said he was walking to a shop when a group started shouting over ‘where are you from’ and Shane said Ardoyne. It shows how naive he is.”

Shane’s answer likely provided the trigger for the attack as Ardyone is viewed as a Catholic/nationalist area.

“He’s not been brought up with the whole Catholic Protestant thing, he’s not interested in all that. But about eight to ten of this crowd started attacking him.

“He managed to get away and run to his granny’s with blood all over his face. One of them shouted something like ‘don’t come back near our area’ at him.”

It is the most serious sectarian attack in Belfast in over a month. In late November, a man was left in hospital after losing his front teeth and having his neck stamped on during an attack in west Belfast.

In a Facebook post regarding the incident, Emma added: “I thought sectarian attacks were a thing of the past but obviously not.”

She said it was important that other parents were made aware of what happened so they could try and keep their children safe.

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