A GROUP of up to fifteen youths, some as young as nine years old, have beaten and robbed secondary school exchange students in Dublin, it emerged yesterday.
Dublin Live reported the story, which occurred in Portmarnock, and says the Italian exchange students have been left “shaken” by the incident.
The Italian schoolchildren were set upon by the group at around 9pm on Wednesday 31 July, as they left Dunnes Stores in the Dublin town of Portmarnock.
The 15-strong group of thieves attacked them by punching and kicking them before stealing what they could from the students and running away.
The host family of one of the students, named only as Francesco, have said they are hurt and saddened that the children will now have their view of Ireland marred by the attack.
Mr Charles Sargent spoke to Dublin Live and described the attack, saying the group of 10 students had been outnumbered by the gang of thieves who “surrounded” them as they were about to walk home.
“They started chasing them and grabbing their bags and if they put up any fight, they were physically attacked.
"Francesco tried to defend himself and stop them from taking his bag but he was punched in the face and kicked in the legs - they didn't manage to get his bag thankfully."
Mr Sargent described his upset as Francesco and his friends have now been given the “wrong impression” of Ireland.
“Portmarnock is such a lovely, scenic seaside place but there [are] groups that are terrorising the residents there and it's painting the place in a bad light for those visiting, like Francesco."
The attack was reported to Gardaí, despite Francesco being afraid at first, and the family and Gardaí are now preparing to identify the children and teens involved.
“We will be checking with Dunnes Stores to see if anything was recorded on CCTV. As well as this, we have contacted the school where they are studying to make all visiting students aware that this can happen - and I'm doing this to warn locals that it can happen to them too.”
Portmarnock is a coastal village in Fingal, approximately 14km forom Dublin city centre. It is generally seen as a safe, quiet place popular with tourists, but worrying reports such as this will affect the reputation of the town if they continue.
There have been no arrests made so far.