Belfast Telegraph

Friday 18 April 2014

Seven attacks in 10 days as racist gang targets Polish community in east Belfast

Anna Bloch holds the large brick that was thrown through the window of her house in east Belfast
Anna Bloch holds the large brick that was thrown through the window of her house in east Belfast

Police and an MP have said that racist attacks on Polish people in east Belfast are being orchestrated by a small group of extremists.

Three homes were damaged in overnight racist attacks yesterday. Alliance MP Naomi Long said it brought to seven the total number of attacks on the homes of Polish people in the past 10 days.

East Belfast MP Ms Long said: "Such acts of intimidation do not define this part of the city. They are perpetrated by a minority with little or no public support."

The PSNI is treating the attacks as hate crimes.

Chief Inspector Mark McEwan said: "These attacks, although they are deliberate and they are targeted, we believe are the work of a small group of people and it is not a reflection of the overall way in which minority communities have integrated in east Belfast."

One Polish woman whose home was attacked said her mother was considering leaving east Belfast.

Anna Bloch has lived in Inverary Drive for several years.

Ms Bloch, her mother and step-father escaped injury when a brick was thrown through the window of her home yesterday.

A window in the home of Ms Bloch's brother, who lives nearby in the Sandbrook Park area with his wife and 11-year-old son, was also smashed. In a third incident, a residence in Victoria Court was hit with a brick.

"There has never been any trouble. My mum lived here for two years and in this area for six years and something like that has never happened," said Ms Bloch.

"I will be staying, but my mum is thinking about moving away."

PUP councillor John Kyle said he was sad, disappointed and exasperated by the attacks.

Former Belfast Lord Mayor Gavin Robinson also condemned them.

After visiting the victims in Inverary Drive, the DUP councillor said: "There should be absolutely no place for such attacks in our society and I would hope that anyone with information on those responsible will work with the police to bring them to justice."

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