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Mass-goers seek sanctuary at church after mass brawl in Northern Ireland street

 

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Terrified church-goers rushed back into All Saints’ Church, which was then transformed into a refuge for those seeking safety from an angry mob beating people with iron bars and shovels outside

Terrified church-goers rushed back into All Saints’ Church, which was then transformed into a refuge for those seeking safety from an angry mob beating people with iron bars and shovels outside

Terrified church-goers rushed back into All Saints’ Church, which was then transformed into a refuge for those seeking safety from an angry mob beating people with iron bars and shovels outside

Parishioners in Ballymena were left stunned as they walked into a massive street brawl after Saturday night Mass, forcing them to run back to their pews.

Terrified church-goers rushed back into All Saints’ Church, which was then transformed into a refuge for those seeking safety from an angry mob beating people with iron bars and shovels outside.

The trouble is understood to have been part of a long-running feud between some members of the Travelling community and a family business of builders.

A local resident said worshippers had been left stunned.

“Most of them have never seen the like of this in their life, they are very shocked,” he said.

The violence involving dozens of people broke out around 6.50pm near a house on Devenagh Way where labourers at the family-run business were working.

The owner of the business said someone had pulled up in a van earlier in the evening and said to his nephew: “What the f*** are you looking at?”

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“Then my nephew lost the head, of course, and there was a heated exchange before the other guy drove away and returned with at least 25 men before he went to Mass,” he said.

The battered builder alleged the group of men, who he claimed belong to the Travelling community, arrived in vehicles before unloading tools which they used as weapons.

He claimed they had vowed not to rest until his nephew “is in a box”.

“It started as a dispute between two individuals, but it quickly turned into a free-for-all — they went bananas and got stuck into everyone,” he claimed.

“It has to stop before someone loses their life.”

The tradesman is convinced that if the men had access to “more serious weapons” someone would be dead today.

“I have no doubt about that — who knows where this will end,” he said.

Tensions had been simmering following recent altercations involving the man’s nephew, although the businessman insisted relations are normally good.

“I’m not blaming all of the Travelling community, I know some of them are genuinely trying to resolve this but there’s just this one clique of younger ones trying to make a name for themselves. I don’t think they are going to let it go,” he said.

The businessman added that those injured had been too scared to attend hospital.

“I need medical treatment but if they find out I’m there they could all show up,” the businessman said. “I’m black and blue, I have broken bones including ribs; I just want this to stop.” He said his brother, who was badly injured “trying to protect his son” in the attack, is also afraid to attend A&E.

“He was trying to calm things down but they dragged him to the ground and beat him with iron bars. He was knocked out cold for at least half-a-minute and then it took him three minutes to get up off the ground,” he said.

“They continued kicking him and took a golf club to him. We’re all in shock.” 

His “petrified” nephew was one of many people who fled to nearby All Saints’ Church which provided refuge for those desperately seeking safety from the mob.

“We are trying to get him out of town, it’s not safe for him to be in Ballymena — at least not until this calms down,” he added.

Police confirmed they attended the scene after receiving a report of an “altercation involving a group of males”. Officers spoke to a number of men and “enquiries are ongoing”.


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