Northern Ireland

Three boys stabbed ahead of Belfast Somme parade

CS Lewis Square
Image caption Police said they received a report of an incident at CS Lewis Square at about 18:30 BST on Monday

A mother has said she "could've been planning a funeral" after her son was one of three boys stabbed on Monday evening in east Belfast.

The boys, aged between 14 and 15, were attacked in CS Lewis Square ahead of a Somme commemoration parade nearby.

The woman's son received a stab wound to the head. He was treated at Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital.

A man, aged 21, was arrested and has been released on bail, police have said.

Warning: This article contains a graphic image

The other boys received arm and back injuries. The mother said one of the boys had slashes on his T-shirt.

They were in the area for a Somme commemoration parade, in which more than 30 bands and 2,500 marchers took part.

"It's only really started to hit me as to how lucky the boys have been," the east Belfast mother told BBC News NI.

"If any of those injuries were any deeper or an inch away, we could've been planning a funeral or sitting up in an intensive care unit."

The mother said his shirt had been removed and she noticed blood "all over his neck and shoulder".

He told her he had been stabbed with a sharp object held in between his attacker's knuckles.

"Kids are going to start carrying knives and weapons more because they feel like they need protection and it's such a vicious cycle," she said.

"Anyone that is carrying a weapon is out to cause trouble, and I don't want anyone else to be in the same position we're now in.

"It's every mother's worst fear, that their child will go out and be injured in an attack like that.

"I'm not just saying this because one of them is my son, but they are lovely boys.

"I don't want to let him out of my sight now. I'm worried sick."

Image copyright PAcemaker
Image caption Simon Byrne was sworn in as the PSNI's new chief constable in a ceremony in Belfast on Monday

The PSNI said it received a report at about 18:30 BST that three boys had been assaulted.

"They sustained minor injuries and were treated at hospital," said police.

"The man was arrested on suspicion of three counts of grievous bodily harm with intent and possession of a prohibited weapon with intent to commit an indictable offence.

"He has been released on bail pending further enquiries."

PSNI Chief Constable Simon Byrne observed Monday evening's Somme commemoration parade in east Belfast.

It was his first time on the ground with the PSNI since officially taking over the role from Sir George Hamilton on Monday.

Temporary fencing was erected between the parade route on the Albertbridge Road and the Short Strand as more than 30 bands and 2,500 marchers passed by.

4 July 2019: This article was updated to add more detail about the location of the attack.