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Last Updated: Tuesday, 3 July 2007, 12:32 GMT 13:32 UK
Gang broke boy's skull with club
Niall Ferrin was attacked in north Belfast
Niall Ferrin was attacked in north Belfast
A mother has described how a sectarian gang beat her son with a golf club, broke his skull, then tied wire around his neck and dragged him along a road.

Niall Ferrin, 15, suffered hearing and sight loss and underwent surgery following the attack at a north Belfast interface on Friday night.

His mother, Patricia, said she believes the gang were out to kill. But she appealed for no retaliation.

A gang of five men set upon Niall, who is from the nationalist Oldpark Road.

Mrs Ferrin said Niall, who is 5ft 1in tall, was chatting to another boy and two young girls near a park at 2300 BST, when they saw the gang coming from an alleyway.

One of the attackers - all believed to be in their 20s or 30s and wearing hoods - hit the boy over the head with a golf driver.

"Before he went unconscious, he remembers looking up and they were still hitting him," she said.

Woman's courage

"He remembers that a Protestant woman came out of her house and shouted at them to stop. The wee girls were screaming for them to stop and his friend ran to get help."

Niall suffered a fractured skull and had a hole in the side of his head.

"He has come round, but there is a loss of memory and his speech is incoherent. He suffered blindness and deafness," Mrs Ferrin said on Tuesday.

"Niall was in the wrong place at the wrong time. He is an innocent Catholic.

"The gang who did this were not going out to play golf. They were going out to kill. He is a small boy, lightly made-up - they knew they were attacking a child."

Residents gathered at Cliftonpark Avenue on Monday to show their support for Niall and his family.

A man was arrested in connection with the attack. He has been released on police bail.

After visiting the family, Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said members of the unionist community in north Belfast must go to the PSNI with information.

"After visiting the Ferrin family this evening, I would call on all political leaders to unite in the face of sectarian attacks like this one and make it clear that there is no place in our society for this type of behaviour," he said.




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