A Protestant teenager has had his nose broken in an unprovoked attack by some 20 Catholic youths in Londonderry, it is reported,
According to DUP MLA Gary Middleton, the innocent 15-year-old was set upon after gangs from both sides of the community used the city’s Peace Bridge to meet for a mass brawl in the Ebrington area.
The Derry Journal also reported that it was aware of reports which suggested that the violence may have been prearranged via social media and may have been sectarian in nature.
The 100-strong mob that clashed was about 60 per cent Catholic and 40 per cent Protestant, Mr Middleton said.
“After the confrontation the Protestant youths were chased into the Waterside by the Catholic youths. A group of about 20 Catholic youths set upon a young Protestant who had not been involved in anything and was on his way to meet his mother.
“He was taken to accident and emergency for treatment to facial injuries including a broken nose.
“There were also quite a few fireworks thrown as well.”
The DUP MLA added: “Both sides planned the fight.”
The PSNI said they received reports of groups of young people fighting in the area of Ebrington Square at around 8.10pm on Thursday.
“Police attended the scene and a number of groups who were in the area dispersed,” the PSNI spokesman said. “A 15-year-old male was treated in hospital for an injury to his nose after he was assaulted in the area of Limavady Road.
“Police will be conducting follow-up inquires into the incidents of last night and, where there is evidence of criminal offences being committed, there will be consequences for those involved.”
Police warned young people planning to cause trouble in the area last night to stay away.
“Police will be increasing patrols and our visible presence in the area, and will have a number of pieces of evidence-gathering equipment at their disposal such as body- worn cameras and CCTV recording. It’s not about spoiling fun, this is about keeping people safe.
“Please consider the consequences if you’re arrested and end up with a criminal conviction. A conviction can damage opportunities to travel, study and get the job you want. Parents and guardians please have this discussion with your children and help them understand the possible consequences of poor decision making.”
The News Letter asked the PSNI if it wanted to make any further comment on claims that the violence had been caused by sectarian gangs and that the Protestant teenager has had his nose broken in an unprovoked attack by some 20 Catholic youths. However, police declined to offer further comment,
The Ebrington site is a former Army base converted into a large, modern open recreation space.
It is part of the Peace Bridge development which is a popular spot with walkers, joggers and tourists and was intended to link together the Catholic City side and predominantly Protestant Waterside of the city. On this occasion gangs used it for a fight, though it was designed to be a shared space.