Belfast Telegraph

DUP councillor’s teen son hurt in sectarian assault on schoolboys

Frank McCoubrey
Frank McCoubrey
Brett Campbell

By Brett Campbell

A DUP councillor says his son was forced to walk through an interface area before being caught up in a "sectarian hate crime" in north Belfast.

The 15-year-old Boys' Model pupil was among a group of children allegedly removed from a Translink bus and chased down the Crumlin Road on Thursday afternoon.

The PSNI said yesterday that it is working to establish the circumstances surrounding a video which emerged on social media showing the incident.

The student's father Frank McCoubrey said they walked along the road towards the Ardoyne shops in order to get home when they were assaulted by pupils from Edmund Rice College.

"They shouted insults and told them: 'You aren't wanted here' before turning violent. Some of the kids started panicking and ran between cars and someone came up behind him and dealt him a heavy blow to the face," said Mr McCoubrey.

The injured teen is on medication after sustaining heavy bruising and tissue damage around his jaw, the councillor revealed.

"He's had a sleepless night and he can't eat because he's in so much pain," he continued.

"There is some concern that he has damaged a nerve, but hopefully he'll be okay."

He added: "There is no doubt this was a hate crime, which is a major setback for him. He's a good kid and has been involved in so many cross-community projects. These attacks need to stop."

Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly yesterday condemned the attack and wished the boy a speedy recovery, saying: "All children and youths must be able to go and come from school safe from fear of intimidation and physical attack irrespective of their place of education."

In a statement, Edmund Rice College said both schools are "extremely shocked and disappointed" by the incident.

"(We) are working closely to ensure that all boys remain safe as they travel to and from school," it said.

Police are appealing to anyone with information about the attack to come forward.

Mr McCoubrey's party colleague Brian Kingston said PSNI North Belfast area commander, Chief Inspector Kelly Moore had confirmed to the DUP that officers are treating the incident as a sectarian hate crime.

Translink said it strongly condemns "all acts of anti-social behaviour", adding it was working with all parties to investigate the circumstances of the incident.

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