A “sectarian mob” inflicted a brutal assault on three men in Derry on Tuesday, after they had gone to the aid of a teenager being intimidated for wearing a Northern Ireland jersey.
The DUP in Derry says the incident is the latest in a series of sectarian attacks on the unionist community in the Waterside area of the city and plan to meet the PSNI on Monday to discuss what action should be taken.
One of the victims described how the “mob” had been chanting “orange b******s” and even filming the attack using mobile phones.
The man, a 36-year-old who asked not to be identified, said he had three teeth knocked out by a glass bottle, while his friend was repeatedly kicked in the head even after having been knocked unconscious.
“On Tuesday I got a phone call from a young person to say they were in the park wearing a Northern Ireland top and they were surrounded by this group,” he said.
“Myself and another couple of people made our way down to get this young man away safe, but as we got down to the area I would call ‘the Stadium’ at Ebrington, as we made our way in the gate we were greeted by sectarian chants – ‘Hun b******s, orange b******s’.
“At that point, a male ran out of the crowd with a pint bottle and threw it from about four foot into my face.”
He added: “It knocked three of my teeth out straight away. My face was covered in blood. I reached out and another male came out of the crowd and hit me across the forehead.
“I stumbled back and held on to him, it was all I could do. They were trying to pull me down and trying to punch and kick at me. I saw another guy who was on the ground and they were jumping on his head.
“It was quite dark. You could hear bottles breaking. I’m surrounded, I’m still stumbling about. They’re jumping on his legs, they’re jumping on his head. There could have been 30 or 40 trying to kick at him. You could see people recording it with their phones.”
DUP councillor David Ramsey believes this type of attack is the result of a long-standing problem with anti-social behaviour in a public park that has taken a “sinister” turn towards sectarian violence, thanks to a particular group of young people travelling to the area from the overwhelmingly nationalist Cityside of Derry.
Mr Ramsey said: “It’s a regular occurrence in St Columb’s Park to have large groups of young people drinking. There’s been lots of work going on recently around that but things have taken a sinister turn because of a group of those young people who have a sectarian element and want to cause trouble. They are coming across the Peace Bridge and taking part in sectarian attacks like this.”