Thursday, June 18, 2009

Fresh attack on Belfast Romanians

There has been another attack on a Romanian family in Belfast, this time in the east of the city.

The bathroom window of the family's home on the Upper Newtownards Road was smashed at about 2300 BST on Wednesday.

Police at the scene confirmed to BBC News that the incident was being treated as a "hate crime".

The Romanian Consul General will meet NI Social Development Minister Margaret Ritchie later to discuss a series of racist attacks in south Belfast.

More than 100 Romanians have been moved to temporary accommodation following the attacks.

Twenty families stayed in a church hall on Tuesday night after leaving their homes.

On Wednesday they were moved to temporary accommodation, also in south Belfast.

There was also a police presence overnight at this site.

Ms Ritchie said the families could stay in the temporary accommodation for at least a week.

Police do not believe paramilitaries were involved in the attacks.

Numerous politicians, including Prime Minister Gordon Brown, have condemned the attacks.

Maria Fechete said she and the other people caught up in the violence had "had enough".

"I haven't slept in a week - we've just had enough," she said.

Another Romanian woman, who did not want to be named, said she feared the attackers had come to kill her and her family, and she now wanted to go back to Romania.

Margaret Ritchie said the Housing Executive would talk to those people who had been rehoused about "their choices and their options over the next week".

There are people out there who know who was involved in the initial attacks
Superintendent Chris Noble

Most of the Romanian families, who are members of the Roma ethnic group, spent Wednesday at the Ozone Leisure Centre in south Belfast, after being taken there from the church hall.

They said they did not want to return to their Belfast homes.

Police responded to claims that they should have acted more quickly.

Superintendent Chris Noble said everyone could have done more.

"There are people out there who know who was involved in the initial attacks," he said.

The prime minister said he hoped the authorities would take all action necessary to protect the families.

On Tuesday night, the group of 115 Romanian people had tried to take refuge in a single house, but was eventually taken to the church by police minibus.

No comments: