Student leaders in Northern Ireland

February 22, 2002

Student leaders in Northern Ireland have condemned a series of apparent Loyalist paramilitary attacks and threats against students living in South Belfast, writes Olga Wojtas.

Two students were beaten in their home in the Village area by a gang wielding sledgehammers and iron bars, while others received death threats purportedly from the Ulster Defence Association. Another student was stabbed.

John Mackell, student president of Queen's University Belfast, said: "We are very, very worried and don't know whether there is a sinister anti-student grouping in the area. The vast majority of people are decent and have been very welcoming to students, and hopefully theirs will be the voice that wins out."

Ken Ball, Queen's pro vice-chancellor for students and learning, said:

"Queen's University condemns all violence against students and, in particular, the brutal attack... which left two Queen's students seriously injured.

"The university will cooperate fully with the residents to ensure that the Village continues to be an area where students feel safe, and a community which readily accepts them into its midst."

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