A mother has said her family’s faith in cross-community work has been dented after one of her children was badly beaten up in a vicious sectarian attack.
She was speaking after two 13-year-old Protestant boys were repeatedly punched after being quizzed about their religion at a Belfast interface.
The mother, who did not wish to be named, said: “My wee boy and his girlfriend, along with a friend, were going up to Ballysillan to watch a band parade on Saturday afternoon.
“They thought they would take a short cut up Ardoyne Road, but two other youths aged about 15 or 16 attacked the two boys.
“They started punching the head off him and he was kneed in the face. I am sitting at the doctor’s now because he is not breathing right. He is complaining his head has a bump, his nose is busted open and under his eyes are really swollen.
“They had nothing with them to say they were Protestants or anything — no flags, no football tops or T-shirts.
“It is a disgrace, you try to get your kids to go on cross-community trips and meet other friends, but how can they do that if they are going to go out and get beaten?
“He used to do cross-community things years ago and also in primary school and my other boy does things at Springfield with the ones from the Falls, but now I am a wee bit worried about sending him there, because you don’t know what is going to happen.”
DUP councillor Brian Kingston said the teenagers from Woodvale were each punched up to 10 times to the head.
The councillor for the Greater Shankill area condemned the attack and said the boys’ mothers have reported the incident to police.
“This was an utterly disgraceful and blatantly sectarian attack on two innocent boys,” said Mr Kingston.
“They were approached by two older teenagers, who asked them repeatedly, ‘Where are yous from?’ and ‘Are yous from the other side?’
“They did not respond and kept walking on, but the aggressors attacked the two boys, punching them around 10 times each in the head and kneeing one in the face. One sustained a bleeding nose and the other sustained a black eye, in addition to bruises and swelling.
“When two adults from further up the Ardoyne Road saw what was occurring they ran down shouting and the two attackers ran away via a side street.”
Police are treating this incident as a sectarian hate crime and have appealed for information.