11 July 2002 Edition

Resize: A A A Print

Sectarianism never sleeps in Larne

The 16-year-old Larne teenager who was brutally assaulted by loyalists in the East Antrim town of Larne last week is lucky to be alive. The youth was hit by iron bars and golf clubs and suffered a compound fracture of the skull as well as other injuries to his head, face and body.

Kieran Maxwell was walking along the Old Glenarm Road, going towards the Seacourt estate, when the loyalists set upon him at about 2am last Sunday, 30 June.

Speaking to An Phoblacht, the teenager described how he saw a group of teenagers who he knew to be Catholics at the entrance to the estate so he walked on, thinking things were OK.

However, as he passed he noticed a second crowd, some of whom he recognised to be loyalists, standing across the road, but before he could escape Kieran was struck by a bottle and fell under the blow.

Kieran struggled to his feet and despite losing a shoe, tried to run away. At this point up to ten loyalists arrived in two cars. This gang was armed with iron bars and golf clubs and they immediately attacked Kieran. He was beaten to the ground and lost consciousness.

His mother Teresa and his stepfather Brendan explained that some of the Catholic youths who Kieran passed earlier witnessed the attack and went to Kieran's aid. The eyewitnesses explained that loyalists, who seemed to be waiting in ambush, kept beating Kieran as he lay prone on the ground.

Kieran's parents also believe the loyalist mob may have tried to pull him into one of the cars and some of his injuries indicate that he was dragged along the ground.

During the incident, a British Army patrol arrived but did not intervene and drove off, leaving Kieran to his fate.

Kieran was eventually taken to Antrim Area Hospital but was transferred to the Royal Hospital in Belfast, where he was treated for a compound fracture of the skull and two other head injuries that appear to have been caused by an iron bar. He received stitches to two wounds above his right eye and suffered multiple bruising and abrasions to his upper body and arms.

Kieran's parents said they felt angry and frustrated that Catholics in Larne were under constant threat and nothing was being done about it. They were critical of the RUC/PSNI, who they say don't treat attacks on Catholics seriously. Despite the fact that four eyewitnesses to the attack have telephoned the RUC/PSNI, a week after the incident none of them had been contacted to make a statement.

Residents of the Seacourt estate in Larne have also told An Phoblacht how the UDA roam the town in gangs hunting for Catholics, while the RUC/PSNI look on. Given the recent escalation in sectarian attacks on Catholics in Larne, people there are now worried that someone will be killed, especially with the heightened tension over the Twelfth.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1