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'Go back to your own country': Family forced to flee Dundalk home after attacks on mother and son

The mother was beaten up by a gang of people outside the family home last week, and her son has been assaulted and repeatedly intimidated.

WhatsApp Image 2020-09-23 at 10.36.09 (1) A window at the family's house was smashed on Tuesday night.

A FAMILY HAVE been forced to flee their home in Dundalk in Co Louth after a series of incidents they believe are racially motivated.

The family say they have reported a number of incidents to gardaí in the last three years – such as rocks, fireworks and bananas being thrown at the house.

Their teenage son has been repeatedly targeted by youths and some older men in the area who have intimidated, chased and assaulted him.

These incidents, including one where he was chased with a knife and a screwdriver by other males in October 2019, have also been reported to gardaí.

Last Friday night, the boy’s mother was attacked by a group of people outside the family home. The woman told TheJournal.ie she was hit by a baseball bat and then kicked by a number of people while on the ground.

The people who attacked the mother allegedly said they were looking for her son and he jumped from a first floor window to escape, injuring his feet. Both he and the mother, who was badly bruised and cut, were taken to hospital via ambulance.

A spokesperson for An Garda Síochána confirmed that gardaí are “investigating an assault that occurred at a property” at approximately 9pm last Friday. They said no arrests have been made to date, and investigations are “ongoing”.

Screenshot 2020-09-23 at 16.25.51 The boy was taken to hospital with his injuries last Friday.

After the incident on Friday, the family moved out of the house for their own safety.

Yesterday morning, gardaí informed them a window at the house was broken some time before 9pm on Tuesday night, after a neighbour reported the incident.

Speaking about the assault last Friday, the woman’s daughter said people smashed windows in her mother’s car before trying to gain entry to the house.

“They were trying to smash into the house to get at my brother. And then my brother had to go up upstairs and jump out the back window from the top floor. He was properly frightened, he was running for his life,” she said.

The daughter was not at the house at the time but her brother phoned her for help, and she and others called the gardaí, who attended the scene.

Their younger siblings were in the house at the time of the incident and were shaken but not injured.

“Imagine if those people actually got into the house, the other children were in the house,” the daughter said.

‘Go back to your own country’

The mother told TheJournal.ie her house has been attacked “countless times” in recent years, but that things have escalated in the last few weeks.

“They have come and thrown stones at my house, rocks through my window, a banana into my house,” she said.

Screenshot 2020-09-23 at 12.54.23 The family have CCTV footage of people throwing items such as rocks at the house.

She said a number of young people in the area have sent “horrible messages” to her son, including pictures of a knife.

Earlier this month, the family claim a local boy showed up at the house and threatened to stab their son, saying he wanted to fight him.

The mother said gardaí have repeatedly told them they they are “working on” the case, but she fears it will escalate further. “Are they going to wait for something bad to happen?,” she asked.

The son has missed months of school in the last year, prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, because of fears for his safety. It is understood that a case worker from Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, is working with the family. 

The mother said she fears for her son’s safety and wellbeing, telling us: “He’s not eating or sleeping, when I talk to him, he’s somewhere else.”

She said she does not know why her son has been singled out but believes his skin colour is the main factor. He has regularly been called the n-word and a “black c***” and been told to “go back to your own country”. The boy was born and raised in Ireland.

TheJournal.ie has seen several messages where he and other family members have been intimated and called derogatory names:

Screenshot 2020-09-23 at 16.27.19

Screenshot 2020-09-23 at 16.27.11

Screenshot 2020-09-23 at 16.26.28

Rival gangs

Kevin Meenan, a local Sinn Féin councillor, has been engaging with the family for over a year.

Meenan said some young people in the area are trying to start rival gangs and view being in a gang as “a badge of honour”. TheJournal.ie understands that a number of adults have also been involved in some of the intimidation, as well as the assault last week.

Meenan said youth workers and community leaders have been trying to resolve fights among young people for some time, holding a meeting between members of different locals groups last December.

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He said further meetings were planned but the Covid-19 pandemic resulted in them not going ahead.

“The lockdown provided the family with an element of cover but also stopped our initiatives, the lockdown put a spanner in everything.”

Meenan said many of the incidents involving young people in the area have been “low level” to date, but the assault on the woman last week marks a clear escalation. He has seen video footage of the incident which he described as “shocking”.

He said other young males in the area have also been targeted but the boy in question “gets the brunt of it” and there are “racial overtones” to the situation.

Meenan said he is currently trying to help the family find alternative accommodation as it is unsafe for them to return home.

The principal of the boy’s school told TheJournal.ie it was the school’s policy “not to make public comment in relation to any student”, but added that the school “implements a robust anti-bullying policy”.

A spokesperson said Tusla cannot comment on individual cases.

Department of Justice and GSOC

On 10 September, eight days before the attack, the boy’s mother wrote to Justice Minister Helen McEntee because she was worried about the situation and frustrated at the lack of progress.

On 14 September, McEntee’s private secretary responded.

He wrote: “I am very sorry to hear about the significant distress experienced by you and your son as a result of the matters referred to in your correspondence. I understand from your email that you been in ongoing engagement with An Garda Síochána and I would encourage you to remain in contact with An Garda Síochána in relation to your serious concerns.

“I hope you can appreciate that it is not within the remit of the Minister for Justice to intervene in criminal investigative matters. Under Irish law, criminal investigations can only be carried out by Garda Síochána, which then submits a report to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

“The DPP, who operates independently of the Minister and the Department of Justice and Equality, then decides whether or not someone should be prosecuted and for what crime.”

The private secretary said McEntee is “unable to intervene in this independent process” but added that the minister can request a Garda report in relation to the concerns raised. In order to avail of this, the woman must send the department her permission in writing to share her correspondence with An Garda Síochána – which she plans to do. 

“If you are not satisfied with how your concerns are being dealt with by An Garda Síochána, it is open to you to contact the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission (GSOC),” he added.

The mother said she has already contacted GSOC about the situation. A spokesperson for GSOC said they are not in a position to comment.

About the author:

Órla Ryan

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