Belfast Tory candidate glassed in face fears losing sight in right eye
A south Belfast Tory candidate glassed in the face on a work night out fears he may go blind in one eye.
Ben Manton, who works for restaurateur Michael Deane, had to have surgery to save his eye on Monday after he was said to have been in a row with a Deanes workmate in a bar on Sunday.
The waiter (24) told the Belfast Telegraph he had no memory of the attack on the belated Christmas work do, but he feared he could go blind in his right eye, which was sliced open.
"I feel very shaken by the whole experience," he added.
Mr Manton claimed he had been out with more than 20 Deanes colleagues when the party turned into a nightmare.
"Being in the restaurant trade, we wait until January to have our Christmas party," he said. "We were having a few drinks and having fun - everything was okay. I don't remember the incident, only what I have been told."
The waiter said his first memory after the attack was coming to in the ambulance and being told he had been hit in the face with a glass. "I was completely disorientated and in shock - there was blood all over my shirt and jeans," he added.
"I was taken to the Royal, and the police took my clothes and shoes for evidence. One of the doctors looked at my eye. I got some stitches in my forehead and cheek, and then I was brought to a ward to rest and was told I would have to have surgery."
Doctors explained to Mr Manton that his eye had been sliced open and that the lens had been completely removed, meaning he would need multiple operations.
It left him worried that he would go blind in the injured eye.
"Either my retina could detach and leave me blind or they will be able to save my vision with surgery," the waiter said.
"I don't know why it happened. We were having a good night and everyone was in good spirits until the incident. I don't have a recollection of that."
Mr Manton is yet to speak to restaurateur Michael Deane about what happened on the night, but he told how office staff had been in touch with him and had been "supportive" as he recovered from his injuries at home.
"Head office contacted me to see how I was getting on, told me my schedule was covered and wished me the best," Mr Manton told the Belfast Telegraph.
While the restaurant worker is recovering, he is far from healed and struggles with some basic tasks. "Even day-to-day things, like going to reach for a door handle, for example, (are difficult)," Mr Manton said. "My depth perception is gone and I am missing things and I keep walking into things. It has left me worried about going back to work and paying my bills."
Another concern for Mr Manton is his inability to canvass for the Tory party in south Belfast ahead of the Assembly elections in May. "Obviously, with my candidacy for the Assembly elections, I am not able to get out knocking doors," he said.
Mr Manton, who has always been interested in politics and in serving the community, explained his motivation for standing for the Conservatives.
"I feel the elected representatives aren't doing the job properly and that a new face can offer something different," he said.
"I chose the Conservatives because no political party in Northern Ireland represented my values. I believe in centre-right economics with socially liberal values. Every party just looks to Westminster with a begging bowl, they don't look to make their own economic gains."
Mr Manton is still to be interviewed by police about what happened. In the meantime, he is anxiously awaiting news about the future of his eyesight.
In an earlier statement, a Deanes spokesperson said the restaurant was aware that an incident involving two employees was under police investigation.
The restaurant will also conduct an independent investigation to determine if disciplinary processes need to be examined.
A 32-year-old man arrested in the aftermath of an incident at the Garrick bar in Montgomery Street on suspicion of grievous bodily harm and possession of an offensive weapon had been released on police bail.