Belfast Telegraph

GAA pundit Jarlath’s anger over brutal attack on son in Gaeltacht

BBC GAA pundit Jarlath Burns has called for talks after his 15-year-old son was among a group of teenagers on an Irish speaking course attacked by a gang of thugs.

The ex-Armagh star’s son was one of eight students attending a three-week course at Colaiste Mhuire in Loughanure in the Donegal Gaeltacht who were attacked by men with hurling sticks.

One of them needed stitches after being hit on the head with a hurl. Others were punched and dragged across a road.

Mr Burns, a school principal, said it was now time for the public in Loughanure to decide if pupils from Northern Ireland were welcome there anymore.

“I am absolutely disgusted at what has happened. It is awkward for me because I am a teacher and I have such a love for Donegal and the Loughanure area.

“But I simply cannot stand by and allow this to happen again. Something just needs to be done.

“We are not talking about a little bit of a banter between some young fellas. These men were in their 20s who should know better than to attack a group of 15 and 16-year-olds,” he said.

Asking for his son’s name not to be published, he called for face-to-face dialogue between community representatives, gardai and the people from Colaiste Mhuire.

“We need to sit down and decide if the students from the six counties are welcome in Donegal anymore. This has been bubbling under the surface for some years now with smaller incidents.

“The general community in Loughanure needs to ask itself ‘should we stand by and watch these young students treated like this?’” he said.

Mr Burns said that between fees and spending money, 1,000 students from Northern Ireland pump more than £1m into the local economy each year.

Gardai are believed to have interviewed at least one local youth in relation to the vicious attacks.

The joint principal of the college, Donal O’Neill, said the attack came completely out of the blue.

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