AN Irish-American student who was savagely assaulted by a gang of youths claims he was set upon because of his foreign accent.
Sean Bourke (21), who lives in Sallins, Co Kildare, is this week attempting to come to terms with the horrific assault he suffered after attending his grandfather's month's mind Mass in Nenagh, Co Tipperary.
Originally from Bergen County, New Jersey, the third-level business student received a broken nose, a swollen ear and cuts and bruises across his body after he was attacked when he tried to protect his brother from a group of assailants on Saturday night.
Mr Bourke said that the two brothers were singled out because of his accent.
"We were walking back to see my grandfather's house, since he passed away.
"We were near the library -- I was with my 16-year-old brother -- when eight youths, aged between 15 and 17, heard me talking and ran across the street at us. They were screaming: 'You foreign b*****d'"."
Mr Bourke's father is from Nenagh and his mother is from Rathfarnham, Dublin. He has lived in Ireland for the past 11 years but says he has a "pretty distinctive American accent".
"They headbutted my brother on the nose and I tried to stop him getting hit; that's when they got stuck into me.
"I distracted them and they really went to town on me," Mr Bourke said.
He suffered a broken nose, a swollen eye and extensive bruising and cuts to his upper body. "I had to be brought into the regional hospital in Limerick as the A&E department in Nenagh is closed at night. It was a 40-minute trip and I had to wait three hours for treatment in Limerick."
Mr Bourke was released from hospital on Sunday evening and then provided a detailed statement to gardai.
Officers in Nenagh are following a definite line of inquiry. The Irish Independent understands those responsible for the assault have been identified.
"I've been told it could take three months for this to go to court. That isn't good enough -- I want to see the people who did this to me prosecuted. I want justice," Mr Bourke said.
"There has to be reform to laws here, the system isn't good enough. The next time they do this, they could kill a person. The laws have to be changed.
"There is still blood coming from my left ear and I have two large bruises just above my kidneys. My parents are very upset by this. People like this have to be punished and punished hard, whether they are over 18 or not," he said.
Mr Bourke is studying for a national diploma in business at Ballyfermot College in Dublin.