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MLA condemns ‘sectarian’ attack on two young Protestant boys in north Belfast

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Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 4tht April 2022

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 4tht April 2022

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Two young Protestant boys age 12 and 13 have been targeted in a sectarian attack in north Belfast, an MLA has claimed.

It’s believed the eldest of the two pals was punched in the head by one of three older teenagers as they made their way to Burger King at Cityside on Sunday evening.

DUP MLA Brian Kingston, who has visited the victim who lives with his grandmother in the Ballysillan area, said the other boy was found on the hard shoulder of the M2 after fleeing from the gang. 

“He and a friend from Westland estate were on their way to Burger King at around 4.30pm,” he explained.

“They encountered three other boys who were older – believed to be around 15 – and on bikes.

“One asked the two young boys, ‘Where are you from?’

“He didn’t answer and they both kind of backed away.

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“Then they were asked, ‘What are you doing in our area?’

“And that’s when the young boy was punched in the face.”

The North Belfast representative said the pair were lucky to escape relatively unscathed.  

“One of them has a sore head, but there’s no sign of serious injury and he hasn’t gone to hospital,” he said.

“Both boys have been interviewed by police.”

Mr Kingston condemned the incident as he vowed to ask tough questions of the police. 

“This cannot become normal and acceptable,” Mr Kingston said.

“I want to know what has been done since the last incident, what’s being done about this incident.

“The culprits headed off in the direction of New Lodge and they seem to be under the impression that it’s their turf.

“But the shopping centre is for everyone and no one visiting it should be subjected to this kind of sectarian hate and violence.”

It comes just weeks after the mother of a schoolboy was attacked in what police suspected was a sectarian-motivated hate crime.

The 13-year-old was in the KFC restaurant in Brougham Street with friends when the incident happened on July 3. 

After being surrounded inside the premises by a number of youths who asked them where they were from and what religion they were the young victim was kicked and punched.

He required hospital treatment for facial injuries. 

SDLP councillor Paul McCusker called for an end to violence at the interface saying the young people responsible for the recent attack “should wise up before someone gets seriously hurt”.

“This is the second attack in this area in a matter of weeks with an apparently sectarian motivation and I’m calling on the young people involved to wise up before someone gets seriously hurt or worse. This is a public area that is used by people from all over our city and nobody has the right to intimidate anyone or make them feel uncomfortable” he said.

“The vast majority of people in this area want to live peacefully alongside their neighbours, we have much more in common than what separates us and when we see incidents like this happening in our community it’s important that we call it out, challenge it and do all we can to stop it.”

“The majority of our young people are a credit to this area an should not be demonised but the last thing we want is to see any young person ending up with a criminal record which could have a significant impact on their future.”

A PSNI spokesperson confirmed they are aware of the latest incident.

“Police are making enquiries following a report received of an assault which occurred at the Yorkgate Centre of north Belfast,” they said. 

"Anyone with any information in relation to this incident is asked to contact police on 101, quoting reference number 1983 17/07/22.”


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