The mother of two boys who were beaten in a suspected racist gang attack on their way home from school believes she has identified at least two of the “thugs” who attacked them.
Diana, who lives on the northside of Cork city, told the Irish Examiner that she has received information through social media which she is confident will help gardaí trace some of those responsible for the assaults on her sons, Alex, 14, and Reece, 15.
“I will no longer settle for this to be called anti-social behaviour. I believe the boys were targeted because of their colour and appearance,” she said.
“I am devastated for my boys but we are not going to hide. We are not going to let anyone make us feel that we are living in fear. I am not going to let them intimidate us. I am going to work so hard, with the help of gardaí, I am going to get to the bottom of this.
"Racism is so real; it is not OK. Although a bit shaken up and obviously bruised, we will not let this gang intimidate us any further.”
The boys, who were born in Cork of Nigerian and Latvian parents, were confronted by a gang of at least five teenagers, aged about 15 or 16, on the Old Youghal Road shortly after 4pm on Tuesday.
Their mother told The Opinion Line on Cork’s 96FM that they had just got off the bus at St Luke’s and had taken a shortcut through an alleyway towards the Old Youghal Rd when the gang made fun of Alex’s Afro hairstyle.
The brothers continued walking before they were jumped from behind. Two gang members attacked Alex while three attacked Reece, before all five began beating Reece.
Alex suffered cuts to his head, face and neck, and bruising to his face. Reece suffered several cuts to his head, and bruising to his jaw and around one of his eyes.
The attackers fled when a passing motorist stopped and intervened.
“I don’t know what would have happened if those people hadn’t intervened. I’m so grateful,” she said.
A woman living nearby alerted gardaí but Diana said they didn’t arrive at her house until 7pm. She treated the boys at home and said they have been overwhelmed by support since friends of hers posted photos of the boys’ injuries on social media.
“They are bruised but otherwise they are fine. We have been overwhelmed by support and it has made my kids feel better about the whole thing knowing that people are behind us,” she said. “The more we talk about this kind of incident, the more positive feedback comes in, emotionally.”
But she said she could not understand the motivation of one of the attackers, who was described as having dark skin, and wearing a green tracksuit.
“He was the first one to attack, to throw a punch. Maybe it was out of sheer jealousy. Maybe he has taken the wrong route in his life,” she said.
Her sons attend secondary school on the southside of the city and Reece, who has competed in pentathlon and high-jump competitions, has represented Ireland in athletics. But Diana said the boys have been subjected to racist abuse before, with Alex facing constant comments about his hairstyle.