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Anger after boy (12) punched in face in ‘sectarian hate’ attack in north Belfast

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The incident took place at an Orange Hall on the Ormeau Road.

The incident took place at an Orange Hall on the Ormeau Road.

AFP/Getty Images

The incident took place at an Orange Hall on the Ormeau Road.

A sectarian assault on a 12-year-old boy in North Belfast has been strongly condemned.

Police are appealing for witnesses after the schoolboy was assaulted in the Ardoyne road area on Saturday evening.

Officers said the young boy had been left frightened.

PSNI Inspector Nick Browne said: “The boy was walking past a fast-food outlet around 7.30pm when a group of five young people, believed to be aged between around 13 to 14, called out to him. One of them then approached him and punched him above the eye.

“This was a frightening experience for the victim and it is being treated as a sectarian hate crime.

“If you were in the Ardoyne road (on Saturday night) and witnessed this incident or you have any information relating to it, please contact police on the non-emergency number 101, quoting reference number 1874 of 17/7/21.”

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Local councillor Dale Pankhurst said he was ‘disgusted’ at news of the attack, saying it was only thanks to the actions of a Subway staff member that a more serious incident was avoided.

Mr Pankhurst said he had spoken to both the boy’s mother and to the Subway worker in the wake of the Ardoyne shops assault.

“It’s a frightening thing to have happened,” he told the Belfast Telegraph.

“These two boys were only children.

“The 12-year-old’s mum is very worried about how this could affect him - it could easily hit his confidence.”

The DUP councillor said he was pleased that the PSNI were so quickly on the scene, and called for anyone with information about the incident to contact officers.

“They’re now gathering CCTV footage from cameras at the Ardoyne shops, and I hope that will soon be able to bring the people who carried out this attack to justice.”

North Belfast SDLP MLA Nichola Mallon also condemned the attack.

“It is sickening that a child was attacked by a group of young people while out walking on Saturday evening. This sectarian hate crime should be met with universal condemnation. The fact that attacks like this continue to happen in 2021 should be a wake-up call to us all.

“My thoughts are with the boy who is understandably shaken following this attack.

"Incidents like this do not reflect the community in North Belfast and Ardoyne, where the vast majority of people just want to live in harmony with their neighbours.

"I would urge any young people engaging in this type of activity to stop, consider their actions and the fact that they will end up with a criminal record that will have a huge impact on their future.

"I would also encourage anyone with any information to come forward to police.”


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