28 August 2003 Edition

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Teenagers hurt in sectarian attack

A North Belfast father has told how his son was one of three teenagers attacked by a gang of unionist paramilitaries carrying baseball bats and golf clubs, as they walked along Alliance Avenue on Saturday afternoon, 23 August.

The three young nationalists had just reached the junction of the Deerpark Road when two men in a Vauxhall Vectra approached from the direction of the loyalist Glenbryn area and blocked their way.

As they turned around to make their escape, a Peugeot 306 carrying five men came from the other direction, hemming them in.

The seven loyalists began to beat the Catholic teenagers with baseball bats and golf clubs. One of the victims managed to escape to a nearby house and raise the alarm.

The unionist gang got back into their cars and made off in the direction of the loyalist Glenbryn.

Sixteen-year-old Jim Foster Jnr, who lives in Ardoyne, received a fractured arm. One of his friends received puncture wounds and bad bruising to his back.

Foster's father fears for other young nationalists in the area given the viciousness of the sectarian attack.

"My son has been badly affected by this attack and his friends are very scared," he said. "It has been fairly quiet around this area during the summer, but these sort of sectarian attacks are happening and they don't make the headlines. Young people around here have to be very careful".

Sinn Fein councillor Margaret McClenaghan said that only for cars stopping and people coming out of their homes, the boys could have been killed.

"The UDA are intent on raising sectarian tensions in the North Belfast area. These sectarian attacks are becoming more frequent and they are becoming particularly vicious in their nature," she said. "I am urging all unionist politicians to take stock of what is happening in this area and to get these sectarian attacks stopped immediately".

McClenaghan called on nationalists to be very vigilant in the coming weeks.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1