3 April 1997 Edition

Resize: A A A Print

West Belfast man lucky to be alive

Stephen Rankin, 24, from West Belfast, only just escaped with his life last Thursday 27 March after being beaten by a Shankill Road mob at two-thirty in the afternoon.

On the Shankill on legitimate business, he was approached by four men at Tennant Street, who mistook him for a known republican. One opened the front passenger door, and asked ``Where do you live?'' At this, another smashed the car window with a sledgehammer, hitting Rankin on the back of the head.

He tried to drive off, but his route was blocked. One man jumped into the passenger seat and kicked him repeatedly, and he was dragged out of the broken window. In fear of his life, he ran off but was caught by his pursuers, by now a twenty-strong mob.

One man set his Rottweiller on the victim. He escaped with his life only through the courageous intervention of a female pensioner, who shielded him and helped him into a nearby butchers. She was assaulted in the process. Rankin is convinced that only her courage, and that of the butcher's staff, saved him from the nakedly sectarian mob.

The RUC arrived within minutes and held off the mob, whilst Rankin left in an ambulance. He was released later that day from the Mater Hospital, but will need further medical attention. Astonishingly, the RUC have so far managed to arrest no-one.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1