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Head of Irish language school fears for future after attack

The principal of the Irish College in Co Donegal where Northern Irish students were attacked by a gang of 25 young men says he fears some students might be put off coming back.

While verbal exchanges between Gaeltacht students from Northern Ireland and local youths have been fairly common in the past, this latest attack was said to have been “like nothing that has ever happened before”, according to Donal O'Neill, principal of Loch an Iuir Irish College.

On Tuesday eight boys from Armagh and Down were walking back from the college for tea when they were attacked by a gang of youths.

Mr O'Neill, who also teaches at St Mary's school in Belfast, said measures have now been put in place to ensure the students are not at any risk of further attack.

He explained: “All of the students are escorted back to the houses they are staying in when the college is finished for the day, and even the teachers who are not on duty come to the college to help with this.

“As well as this, the gardai have been patrolling there area at night so I am pretty sure we won't see a repeat of Tuesday's events.

“I have spoken to all of the parents and no one felt the need to take their son or daughter home again, not even any of the boys who were attacked.

“After the attack, we got the school nurse to check them over and to be on the safe side we took them to NowDoc and one of the boys needed stitches to his head, but even he is still here.

“It would be a shame if this was to jeopardise the future of the college and I hope it won't, but we will have to wait and see what happens.”

One student from north Belfast, who has been attending Loch an Iuir Irish College for the past three years, says the attack wouldn't put him off coming back to the village.

He said: “There has always been tensions with the young people from Loch an Iuir and the odd fight would break out, but it was never like this.

“They took the hurly off one of the boys from Armagh and broke it over his head, now that's bad.”

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