'I was lucky I didn't lose my sight' says 12-year-old boy caught up in CS spray incident at Orange Order Ormeau Parade
A 12-year-old boy has said he was lucky not to lose his sight after he was hit by CS spray at an Orange Order youth parade on Tuesday evening.
He said that he is now speaking out to prevent of any child - of any culture or religion - from having the same experience.
Disturbances broke out on Belfast's Ormeau Road at a band parade on Tuesday evening.
Community representatives claimed children as young as five were affected by the use of CS spray. Two PSNI officers were injured as a result of the disorder.
Video footage showed young bandsman Christian King crying, “I can’t see” after the CS spray was dispensed at a Junior Orange parade on the Ormeau Road on Tuesday evening.
He has claimed he was sprayed in the face by a police officer who he believes made a mistake.
“It was really sore, stingy and when I tried to open my eyes it hurt,” he said of the moment the CS spray hit his face.
“I have been thinking about it a lot ever since and sometimes it still hurts when I blink.
“I think it was one police officer who made a mistake and it turned into something big.”
He said he went to an optician the following day to check if any damage had been done.
"They said I was lucky I didn't lose my sight."
Christian’s father George was at the family’s caravan around 30 minutes away when he heard what had happened. He said he and Christian’s mum were really worried as they drove back to Belfast.
But he said he was more upset when he saw the footage of what actually happened and his son’s crying in pain.
“There is no excuse for spraying children with CS spray,” he said.
“I don’t understand what was going through the officer’s head.
“Then for the police to come out and say no children were directly sprayed. My son was, and others were.
“We fully support the police, I have brought up Christian to support them and told him they are there to protect us, but that officer was wrong.”
Meanwhile the South Belfast Young Conquerors have condemned the sharing of a police officer's details on social media.
"We wish to express our clear and unequivocal condemnation of a police officer's details being posted on social media platforms," the band said in a statement.
"We would also wish to take this opportunity to make it clear that throughout its 40 year history, the officers and members of South Belfast Young Conquerors Flute Band have parade with only one intention in mind. That intention being to maintain the highest standard of dignity and musicality expected of the SBYC."
A senior police officer has defended the policing of the Junior Orange parade on the Ormeau Road on Tuesday evening.
PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Stephen Martin says parades are policed in an impartial way.
“I can tell you that I police those [parades] in an impartial, consistent way,” he said.
“Yes I have to make different decisions based on different contexts, unfortunately we are a divided society where often it comes down that if I’m celebrating, you will condemn, and vice versa, these are difficult decisions.”