Northern Ireland

NI students attacked in Gaeltacht

Eight students from Northern Ireland studying at an Irish language college in County Donegal's Gaeltacht have been assaulted by a gang of up to 20 youths.

The pupils, aged 15 and 16 and from counties Armagh and Down, were walking back to Colaiste Mhuire in Loughanure on Tuesday when they were attacked.

It is understood some had their hurling sticks taken off them and these were used to beat them.

Although they were treated for cuts and bruises, none had to stay in hospital.

Joint principal of the college, Donal O'Neill from Belfast, said the attack was unprovoked.

"Some of our boys were playing a soccer tournament here and were walking home for their tea as they do every evening at five o'clock," he said.

Injuries

"Basically they were walking up the road and a gang of youths appeared out of the side of the road and for some unknown reason attacked eight of our students.

"They have some injuries mostly minor, with one more serious - one student actually had to get four stitches in his head."

Dominic Bradley, the SDLP MLA for Newry and Armagh condemned the attack and said it was "not representative of the people of the Gaeltacht."

He added: "I have spent many years as a student and as a teacher at Irish colleges in the Gaeltacht and my experience is that host communities in the the Gaeltacht traditionally give students a very warm welcome.

"Many lifelong friendships are built up between the students and the families with whom they stay. It is this type of friendship rather than the violence directed at these students which usually characterises relationships between the local people and the students."

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