Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 September 2014

More people driven out by racists

Romanian refugees leave the Lisburn Road area of Belfast on a coach after being forced out by racist groups in 2009

The number of households intimidated from their homes by racists in Northern Ireland has doubled in four years, it has been revealed.

The mass flight of Roma families from south Belfast in 2009 contributed to the dramatic increase in the number left homeless, said the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM).

A total of 100 Romanians fled their homes in the city following the spate of racist attacks.

The number of cases increased from 41 in 2006/7 to 96 in 2009/10.

The families who left in June 2009 were members of the Roma ethnic group. They said they felt frightened and vulnerable after their homes were targeted.

The Northern Ireland Housing Executive later paid for them to return to Romania using emergency funds. The group had been living in south Belfast - the part of Northern Ireland which had the highest number of reported racist incidents.

An OFMDFM statement published this week said there has been some increase in the number of households presenting as homeless both as a result of sectarian and racial intimidation, the increase being more dramatic for those attributing their homelessness status to racism and likely to be linked to the attacks on Roma families in June 2009.

It added: "Collectively, there has been an increase of 63 such cases since recording began. The 2009/10 figures of 96 for those citing racial intimidation as the reason for their state of homelessness represents a rise for two consecutive years."

According to OFMDFM, the number of racially motivated hate incidents is down by a fifth from 1,047 incidents in 2006/07 to 842 in 2010/11.

Crimes with a racist motivation fell by a quarter between 2009/10 and 2010/11 (712 versus 531). The past five years has recorded a downward trend in this crime type, the OFMDFM written answer to DUP MLA Jonathan Craig said. The 2010/11 figure is the lowest since 2004/05 when they were first presented.

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