Northern Irish student Natasha McShane has been described as making  “remarkable progress” after her move to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast from Chicago .

Natasha’s grandmother, Bernadette McShane, says the family is delighted to have her nearer home but added that she still has ‘a long road ahead of her’.

The Northern Ireland teen was savagely beaten in Chicago earlier this year and underwent a  medically induced coma which lasted over a month.

Her progress since, though, has been described as “good” and “encouraging” by medical sources.

In a statement the family told the media that they were: “Encouraged and comforted by her family and friends, we are hopeful that Natasha’s progress will soon see her make that final journey back to her home in south Armagh.”

“From her initial days at the Illinois Masonic Hospital to her stay at the Northwestern Memorial Hospital and then on to her six weeks of rehabilitation at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC), she has bravely endured a long and uncertain journey”

The statement also paid tribute to the generosity of the Chicago Irish community and the local Armagh community - where Natasha comes from - without whose help it wouldn’t have been possible to pay for her extensive hospital treatment.

Natasha can now walk a few yards with some assistance and has regained a vocabulary of a few words. It’s not much, but sources say she was lucky to escape with her life after having been repeatedly and savagely struck on the head with a metal baseball bat.

Two people have been charged with the attack.  Heriberto Viramontes, 31, and his alleged accomplice, Marcy Cruz (25) have been charged with attempted murder, aggravated battery and other offences.

Verimontes charge has been upgraded to attempted murder.