“Then the boys with masks appeared..”

There’s very little detail online about the stabbing of two men on Thursday night in the Markets area of South Belfast, 4 men were hospitalised and the available reports say that up to 30 people were involved in the fighting by the time the police arrived – two men are now being questioned. Just an average violent night out in the city? Perhaps. But there is one report, and it’s the only one with any detail I’ve seen, which suggests something else might be going on. Also worth noting that the Sinn Féin MLA, Alex Maskey, has been visiting some of those involved who were hospitalised. From the Daily Mirror [NI edition] which names the two men stabbed as Billy Clinton, “a veteran republican” in his 50s, and his brother Terry, and also reports that “another man involved was left with dozens of stitches in his head after being beaten with a baseball bat.”

One source told the Mirror: “It all started with a bit of a row over at the Hilton but later on there were windows smashed and it all started getting messy. After the windows got put in a crowd went looking for the boy that did it. They didn’t find him but there was a row on the street. Then the boys with masks appeared looking for your man saying they were Provies and they were going to kill him.”

Also from the Mirror report

It’s understood the man blamed for smashing the windows later agreed to meet with the other family in a bid to “smooth things over”. But a fight broke out in which the man suffered head injuries and then Mr Clinton was stabbed.

And that additional note

Sinn Féin councillor Alex Maskey described the stabbing as “dusgraceful” [sic] and said that anyone ready to pull a knife should be “behind bars”.

He added: “I was in the hospital today visiting one of the people hurt. There is one man in a very serious condition and another serious.

“This is a terrible attack. The police are in the middle of an investigation and I would urge anyone with information to come forward.

“This could so easily have ended with a fatality.”

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