Belfast Telegraph

Belfast Boys' Model principal confirms pupil was victim of attack

The victim of the assault is the son of a DUP councillor.

Mark Edwards

By Mark Edwards

The Principal of Belfast Boys' Model School has confirmed one her pupils has been the victim of an attack in north Belfast.

Principal Mary Montgomery, in a statement to the BBC's Nolan Show, said that both her and the principal of Edmund Rice College have been in touch with the boy's family and have expressed concern for his welfare.

The PSNI said it is working to establish the circumstances surrounding a video which emerged on social media showing school boys being chased down the Crumlin Road on Thursday afternoon.

The video shows one group of youths chasing another group, some of whom are wearing school uniforms.

The video was filmed in an interface area in north Belfast on Thursday afternoon.

DUP councillor Dale Pankhurst told the Belfast Telegraph on Thursday evening that one of the boys, who is the son of DUP councillor Frank McCoubrey, sustained a suspected broken jaw. It is now understood the boy's jaw was not broken in the attack.

In her statement Mrs Montgomery said that the principals of both schools were "shocked and disappointed" by the attack and that she has never experienced anything like this before during her time in charge of Boys' Model.

She pledged to work with a range of organisations to make sure pupils are safe travelling to and from school.

Sergeant Matt King said: "We have received a report that a male youth was assaulted and subsequently attended hospital for injuries he sustained. They are not believed to be serious and he has since been discharged from hospital.

"I would appeal to anyone who witnessed this assault to contact police in Tennent Street on 101, quoting reference number 1697 05/09/19. I would also appeal to anyone in the video to also contact us as they may have information that could assist our enquiries."

One group of schoolboys is seen chasing another in the video.
One group of schoolboys is seen chasing another in the video.

DUP councillor Brian Kingston said: “We are asking searching questions on how this occurred and what can be done to prevent similar incidents in the future.

“At least one Boys Model pupil was assaulted in a sectarian hate crime when walking down the Crumlin Road, close to Ardoyne shops, and other young pupils had to flee from the scene having been threatened, running through cars on the Crumlin Road to the safety of Twaddell Avenue.

“One of those attacked was the son of our colleague Alderman Frank McCoubrey. He took his son for treatment for bruising and swelling at the Mater Hospital yesterday evening and again at his doctor’s this morning.

“We would appeal for information to be brought forward to the police to help them identify the person or persons responsible for this attack on Protestant school boys purely because of their perceived religion."

Mr Kingston said the DUP has spoken with the PSNI North Belfast Area Commander, Chief Inspector Kelly Moore, who confirmed that the police are investigating this incident as a sectarian hate crime.

"She has told us that the PSNI is deploying extra resources to the Twaddell/Ardoyne interface over the coming days, aware that this attack has heightened tension. They are appealing for information and are examining video records of the incident," the councillor added.

“We have also been in contact with the Boys' Model School and with Translink regarding how it occurred that pupils were walking home when they should have been transported by bus. We are following up with meetings with the school and with Translink to ask how they will act to ensure this does not occur again."

SDLP North Belfast MLA Nichola Mallon said: " We are trying to build a city that is free from the scourge of sectarianism, where people and communities can live and work together. It is distressing to see the footage of young people engaging in what very clearly appears to be a sectarian attack on other kids based on the school they go to and their religion.

“I hope that the victims of this attack recover quickly.

“I am glad to see a swift response from local principals committing to addressing this issue. This is a problem for all of us. Sectarianism is a learned behaviour and we all have to commit to erasing it from our society.”

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