A smashed in face – blame the parents?

The brutal assault of 13 year old Shannon Smyth with a brick (at least) in Moyard is currenty being investigated by the PSNI and is considered a possible sectarian attack – she required 14 stitches to her face, lost teeth and suffered numerous cuts.

Almost as disturbing as the actual incident is the response from some to it here on Slugger and elsewhere.

Since outlets such as the BBC, Belfast Telegraph, Newsletter and even PSNI stated the assault took place in the earlier hours (12.30am) some have declared the victim’s parents have questions to answer due to the time and her age.

However, both the Irish News and Andersonstown News, with slightly better links in the local community, have reported the attack occurred at 7.30pm (not online)

I’m unsure if those trying to blame the parents will take this into account. Or even reflect on regardless of the time it occurred if anyone other than the perpatrators are responsible.

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  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Im glad this has AT LAST been brought to the attention of the wider Slugger community……some of whom regard the story as “non political” (although seemingly winning a Golf competition or getting a highly paid TV job are “political”).
    A poor reflection on the “news values” in Sluggers core team.
    The Overclass are of course disdainful of those they deem the Underclass……residents of Moyard for example….and the lobby hacks in Stormont arent interested in this kinda story.
    But this kinda sectarianism is a reality for too many ordinary people…in both our communities.

    Of course the Overclass rushing to blame Ms Smyth and her family (who are the victims!!!) are the same Overclass who would not tolerate a judge “blaming” a rape victim…..provided of course she was middle class.

  • Cormac Mac Art

    I don’t understand this. Why does some percieve the parents as to blame? Surely our outrage (and outright horror) should be directed at whoever did this to a child?

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    by way of clarification….as Ive mentioned on other threads this kind of sectarian thuggery is not limited to attacks on Catholics……as the truly horrific attack on a young Protestant lad in Lurgan a few weeks back indicates.

    But the real point is that these regular occurences are way below the radar of the Bloggerati.

  • padraig

    I wonder why, in a week that saw well organised and coordinated racist attacks the latest in a very long series of hate crimes from within the Unionist community which made headlines, we have Mark posting two separate articles one on Fenians painting walls and the other about a young girl in a Catholic area getting hit with a brick.

    Is there some kind of agenda here or am I being paranoid?

  • padraig

    Also why is there no article at all on Slugger about these racist attacks? Am I imagining them?

  • Cynic

    As one of those who posted earlier …yes.

    But when it was reported as happening at half past midnight I asked why she was out at that time – and I stand by that. If a 13 year was wandering the streets after midnight in this area then it would be right to ask, why?. If it was 7.30 that’s a different matter.

    None of that minimises the seriousness of the assault or takes away the responsibility from the scum that hit her.

    Also, why is there such focus on this one? What about all the others who area assaulted in the North Belfast interfaces every week?

  • Mark McGregor

    oh, ffs.

    Yes, Slugger is attempting to see who can be the biggest moaner that doesn’t contribute FA to the site despite the open invitation.

    You are going to draw for top moaner this week. Well done.

  • Bulmer

    Simple. No 13 year old girl should be walking the streets at midnight.

    I’ve a 13 year old daughter so I know the normal worries any parent has when they go out. But it would be complete abdication of being a parent if she was allowed to roam the streets at that age.

    Had the parent(s) exercised even a modicum of control the child would not have been put into danger.

    The class analogies are well off the point. I grew up in a working class area and even then 13 year olds were out late. But most working class families do exercise care of their children. There isn’t a different standard just because you are on low income.

  • padraig

    I asked a question Mark, you answered it by not answering it.

    Which I suppose means you haven’t got an answer.

    Which is an answer in itself


  • If a thirteen year old was out at midnight that might mean her parents had questions to answer, and Im pleased to find that is not the case.

    The time of day or night has nothing whatsoever to do with a sadistic assault carried out by some pervert.

    It makes no difference if it happened at seven thirty or midnight.

    It makes no difference if the pervert was Catholic or Protestant.

    A sick bastard is out there and anyone who knows anything about him should contact the police.

  • Bulmer

    Why allow your daughter to put herself in danger? We all there are nutters out there.

  • Nunoftheabove

    Stating the entirely bleeding obvious, there are two separate issues.

    One is the brutality of this appallingly violent attack on a child. Some sectarian psycho/sociopath probably male youth child is, as they say, ‘out there’.

    A separate issue is the (possibly) apparent unwillingness or inability of some parents in some communities to know/care where their children are when they should be at home, safe, supervised and in their bed.

    Both issues are serious and there is not necessarily any cause and effect link in every case.

  • al

    Why are the two papers reporting 7.30pm? Surely the police would be best informed about what time this actually happened.

  • Bulmer

    I reckon its the old ‘it will never happen to me’ syndrome, that is if the girl was out at midnight, which appears to be in doubt.

  • Mark McGregor

    Indeed. In a society where the police are part of a community and trusted by them and some media outlets.

  • al

    Is that sarcasm Mark? Can’t tell.

    The police have no gains to make by reporting the wrong time whereas predominantly nationalist papers may have an agenda.

  • Dec

    “Also, why is there such focus on this one? ”

    13 year old girl…playground…knocked unconcious with brick to the face…go figure, brains.

  • Mark McGregor

    Indeed Al,

    For some the time a 13 year old gets bricked in the face is the issue.

    Not the actual smashing up of a child.

  • Cynic

    You seriously think she’s the only one?

  • Cynic

    Oh do grow up Mark.

    There are two isues


  • Cynic

    Is your incomprehension deliberate or due to a lack of capacity to understand the points made.

    The primary responsibility lies with those who hit her and lets see what the police investigation turns up.

    If it happened at 1230am then a secondary question is, why was she in harm’s way?

    You seem to want to capitalise on the attack but deny the possible issue of child protection? Why?

    I have to say that – terrible as this case is – I think it is being exploited by some individuals here for their own purposes.

  • Mark McGregor


    Indeed there are two issues.

    .The contested reporting of the time a child was brutalised

    .And the willingness of many to blame the child’s parents for her brutalisation.

    Or put simply blaming the victim/family because she comes from a working class area.

  • Cynic

    Of course the sick bastard may be another teenager

  • redhugh78

    Not to mention ‘cricket’.

  • Cynic

    A hate filled child, possibly maturing into a paedophile is a potential nightmare for all parents. If a child did this he needs help, fast.

  • al

    Paedophile? What?

    This thread should never have been started. Yes some people are sick bastards who will blame anyone else other than their own but most people seem to be saying that the child should not have been out at this time giving her age.

    This thread will contribute absolutely nothing other than to show that sectarianism is still alive in Belfast and beyond. Not exactly news or political debate is it?

  • Mick Fealty

    No agenda Padraig, Mark’s just giving the mob what they asked for and getting a shed load of abuse for doing it. I have no idea what the back story to this attack, which is one reason why I would not touch it.

    I personally would not touch that other story either until there was a clear political element to it. Until we get a clear fix on the racist attacks and what’s behind them, I won’t be touching that one either.

    Worth reading this in the meantime:


  • al

    Did you read what I wrote? The comment I responded to asked what if a child was responsible for the attack on the girl. I said as you read: the possibility of a hate filled child maturing into a paedophile is every parents nightmare. You think its not possible? Look across the water, Jon Venables who, aged ten, sadistically murdered Jamie Bulger, is on trial for possessing and distributing child porn.

    Of course it almost certainly would never happen, almost certainly.

  • al

    Sorry Pippakin got a bit confused think the posts are jumping. I still don’t quite know how the topic of paedos came into discussion. Of course its possible for it to develop at a young age. Don’t really want to discuss that sort of thing though.

  • al

    I completely agree, wish I hadnt said it but brutality to children brings out the worst in me. Sorry.

  • Mark McGregor

    All we know for sure out of this discussion is some people think a child being bashed in the face with a brick needs both context and a discussion on the time she was smashed up.

    I hope when you find an agreed time for the child face busting, you all agree it wasn’t the child’s fault.

  • jtwo

    Dr pippakin of the webmong school of forensic pyschology.

  • jtwo

    See above to addressed to al.

  • tacapall

    Pippakin you are seriously overestimating any sort of connection or possible evolving into peadophillia by post conflict children by using the Jon Venables case as an example.

  • tacapall

    Im sure youre right, I certainly hope so. In the meantime see my response to al, above.

  • socaire

    Hee hee

  • A sinn fein sheep has lost his way baa, baa, baa…

  • tacapall

    This young girl was assulted by other youths conditioned to indulge in the annual hatefest during the marching season if you wish to side track it by calling into question the parents responsibility, then we can also ask why modern day society should tolerate the public intolerance of the Catholic faith by an instatution while condemning such incidents, creates the mindset that impels it. Responsibility….

  • vanhelsing

    Whole episode is dreadful.

    I only hope Johno is happy with the post – he fought so hard for it 🙂

  • tacapall

    Im surprised, I have not, and only a bigoted fool would, blame the parents for the attack.

    To blame it one sectarianism is to give the attacker an excuse, whatever mistakes I have made I will not accept any excuses for the attack, therein lies the excuse for all attackers.

  • Driftwood

    Were the infamous ‘Colton Gang’ involved? The history of racist attacks by Niall Colton and his gang fit the MO here.

  • Freya

    Mark – so you’re confirming it was the media [and more than one paper] who mis-reported this story. Why then the attack on the commenters who were reacting quite fairly to the mis-reporting. I suggest you ought to be more critical of the former than the latter. Just a thought.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Mr Fealty,
    An unusual definition of the word “mob”.
    The Mob would be the people who beat up the Catholic and Protestant kids in Moyard and Lurgan respectively.
    I never really considered myself as a member of a “mob”.
    Some would say that bricking a 13 year old child in the face is a form of child abuse and we know from so many previous Slugger that this is exactly the kinda thing that has motivated so many threads here.

  • Cynic

    Ah now the hate filled Prod child has morphed into a future Prod Paedo ………..

  • Cynic

    All we know out of this discussion si that even on this issue our society is divided.

    Some want to look rationally at what they agree is a terrible attack.

    Others want to exploit the child for their own political ends.

  • latcheeco

    Forgive me if I’m wrong, but, prior to your current concern for that wee girl in Moyard, didn’t you flippantly refer to this attack/subject as mere “sectariana” which didn’t interest you and was for others because, as you said, you only “do politics” ?

  • Unlucky Erb

    Yeah I would have thought that this systematic series of racists and sectarian (catholic woman also targeted) attacks would have merited discussion.

    Clearly not

  • Dec

    Maybe the PSNI were referring to the time they responded to the incident?

  • Mick Fealty


    YOU need to get out more. Try this “A crowd (of people, from Latin mobile vulgus “fickle commoners”, or “Mobbing, a form of systematic harassment”.

  • stewart1

    I blame Gerry Adams

  • Mick Fealty

    You guys provide the links and we’ll decide (as individual bloggers) what we’ll blog. Otherwise, start your own.

  • Ardmhacha

    There is a wider problem than just the brutal attack on the little girl, attacks like this are happening all the time throughout n.ireland.

    Yes the little girl should not have been out at that time of the night and her parents need to be more responsible, my worry is that the attack was probably carried out by another teenager, someone who was probably less than 10 years of age when the GFA brought peace, how can someone who has practically grown up in a time of peace become so bitter and full of hatred that they can carry out such a vicious attack?

    You have to look at the parent’s of all who carry out these attacks, it is down to the parents to educate the children and set an example, the problem is most of these parents lived through the height of the troubles and will continue to carry their bitterness and hatred to the ‘other’ side, this is easily picked up by their children who then think it is acceptable to show such hatred.

    Its not going to stop over night but hopefully in a few generations the hatred will fade and become more diluted as other cultures arrive in this country and the old hate filled vile spitting politicians are long gone.

    It is down to all parents from all communities to teach their children to respect eachother.

  • sam

    Well said Ardmhach. Sadly we live in a very sick society.

  • Neil


    UTV has the attack at 7.30 also. So the truth appears to be in dispute, and few will condemn a child for being in a playpark at 7.30 on a Saturday evening or their parents for allowing it.

    If it was 7.30 in the evening I wonder if the Antrim Road PSNI is doing it’s job well enough, asking for witnesses and providing a time several hours after the event. Is Antrim Road PSNI the best option for investigating this, given they’re about 5 miles away from the location the attack occurred?

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Mr Fealty.
    How many people constitute a “crowd”?
    “Systematic Harrassment”. Clearly youve never been harassed systematically or otherwise.
    But Im gratified that you mean a “mob” in the classical Latin sense of the word rather than its modern meaning.

    I can understand that “fickle commoners” should be asked to provide links to obscure stories that slip under the radar but when the items are headline news, that just seems odd.

  • Mick Fealty

    You queried my use of the word ‘mob’, and I provided you with a functional definition. As for the rest I suggest you interrogate Google and then take yourself off and do the required reading.

    My work here is done. 🙂

  • Quincey

    I agree with Mark. Blaming the parents in this case (even if the child was out at midnight) is akin to blaming the Police when a bomb goes off (eg. Omagh) or causes disruption (eg. Keady).

    The fundamental blame for any physical act of violence lies with the perpertrator – no one or no thing else.

  • vanhelsing

    was it not ‘the mob’ that the Senate were always concerned about and the Emperors tried to woo?

  • Neil

    Mick, as a possible suggestion, what about a place on the site where people can submit links to the blogging team as suggestions. Just in case people feel a pertinent story gets missed by you guys, unlikely and all as that may be.

  • jim

    hes partly to blame. wasnt it him who told people not to go to the police even in rape cases

  • Nunoftheabove

    The parents didn’t beat the child, sociopathic lumpenproletariat vermin probably did. The problem which caused the attack is respectless and possibly sectarian youth.

    It’s not impossibe that there is some form of symmetry between the competence of the parents of the attacker/s and of the victim.

  • Nunoftheabove

    I suspect the vermin who did this would have a hard time reading this thread, let alone understanding the nuances.

  • Well said Mark,
    We won’t be the first to agree with each other on most subjects but anyone who would carry out that sort of attack on a child, irrespective of time, religion, or anything else, has no place in normal society.

  • The arguments over the timing of this attack are fairly ludicrous. Each paper which actually sent a reporter to speak to the family is quite clear that it happened at 7.30pm. It may well have been reported to police at a slightly later stage, which appears to have caused some confusion at other newsdesks, and the assault would have been unacceptable at any hour of the day. However, those who are blaming the parents of the victims are completely missing the point.

  • daisy

    This is a disingenuous thread. How could anyone “blame the parents” for this brutal attack? Some of us have questioned how a child was out at midnight, as was reported at the time, and that is fair comment.

    I would expand that to ask what kind of parents fill their children with such hatred that those children carry out such an appalling attack.

  • daisy

    I completely agree. It seems some think the ‘sectarian’ card is actually an excuse.

  • daisy

    Indeed, there are 2 issues:

    . media misreports facts shocker!
    . blogger relies on emotive language to stir things up.