Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Two racist attacks every day in Northern Ireland's race-hate crime surge

Surge in attacks against ethnic minorities

Imelia Farbiszewska and Marcin Zyczko clear up after the attack on their north Belfast home

Two racist attacks are taking place every day in Northern Ireland – with fears Belfast is rapidly becoming the race hate capital of the UK.

In the past year there has been a surge in reported attacks on ethnic minorities across Northern Ireland, with figures jumping by 43%.

However, the vast majority of race hate crimes (70%) took place in Belfast.

Figures obtained by this newspaper showed there were 156 race crimes across Northern Ireland in the first three months of this year compared to 103 for the same period in 2013.

The majority of incidents took place in north Belfast (27), followed by the east (23) and south (16) of the city.

As the shocking statistics emerged, police appealed for information regarding a ferocious attack on a Chinese man at Claremont Street in the Malone area of south Belfast.

His jaw was broken by another man, aged in his 30s, who was wearing white tracksuit bottoms, a blue hooded top and gloves.

It is believed he headed in the direction of the Lisburn Road following the assault.

The brutal attack took place on March 28, but details have only emerged.

Another Chinese national who lives in the area told this newspaper they were afraid to leave their home following the latest incident.

News of the assault came as it was revealed more than two race attacks are reported to police every day, with equality campaigners concerned up to 80% of incidents go unreported.

Across Northern Ireland, there were 199 reports of racist incidents in the same three-month period, with 234 sectarian confrontations and 53 homophobic incidents.

Last week a young Polish family were forced from their home in the Mount Vernon estate following a series of attacks on their property.

A senior police officer said the upsurge in hate crimes leaves "the unpleasant taste of a bit of ethnic cleansing".

The PSNI also said it was in no doubt about the involvement of paramilitary groups, notably the UVF.

"The nature of recent crimes is very insidious in nature, they are very direct physical manifestations of hatred and intolerance, the nature of which should cause us very significant concern," Assistant Chief Constable Will Kerr added.

Naomi Long (left), Alliance MP for East Belfast, said the attacks tarnished the image of Northern Ireland. "The rise in racist attacks, particularly around Belfast, is a worrying trend," she said.

"I recently raised the issue during Prime Minister's Questions, when I called on the Government to do more to combat racism and xenophobia by ensuring the public debate on issues such as immigration and Europe is balanced."

Ms Long's party colleague, MLA Anna Lo, has been targeted by racists in recent months.

"These attacks are creating a lot of tension and fear," she said.

"We don't want Northern Ireland to be known as the racist capital of the UK."

One incident reported to police was the throwing of excrement at a young foreign street busker in the centre of Belfast. Earlier this month there was disquiet at the posting of leaflets in south and east Belfast calling for local jobs for local workers.

In recent weeks similar fliers have also been posted through the letterboxes of homes in the north of the city.

Chief Constable Matt Baggott told this month's meeting of the Policing Board his force was determined to clamp down on those behind racist attacks.

"We are working very closely with the housing association and the council and we are not going to tolerate any. The success of a city is always about its diversity," he insisted.

Of the involvement of paramilitary factions, he added: "They are gangs of thugs who seek to bully, oppress, to use violence in that neighbourhood for their own purposes. They may come under a badge or a paramilitary group but in effect they are crime gangs."

Earlier this year the Northern Ireland Council for Ethnic Minorities called for an offence of racially aggravated crime to be introduced here.

What's it like to be attacked because of your nationality?

Five cases of frightening racist crimes that shocked Northern Ireland.

CAR BURNED BY 'ANIMALS'

A POLISH family were moving home over the weekend after racist attacks on their property.

They decided to flee their Mount Vernon home after two attacks in three days.

Imelia Farbiszewska described those behind the north Belfast attacks as "animals".

The family car was burned out last Saturday, before bricks were hurled at their house on Monday. Ms Farbiszewska, her partner Marcin Zyczko and their two children -- aged nine and five-- had been staying with relatives.

FAMILY FLEE WITHIN HOURS

A YOUNG family fled their home after a race-hate mob launched a terrifying attack on the property in March.

The gang of men smashed windows at a house in Rathcoole and threw a petrol bomb which gutted the victims' car.

Ulster Unionist mayor of Newtownabbey Fraser Agnew said those responsible were deplored by the majority in society.

Neighbours said the family, who are from eastern Europe, moved out within hours of their ordeal.

ANNA STANDS UP TO BIGOTS

A BRICK was thrown through the window of Anna Bloch's east Belfast home in one of three racist attacks on Polish homes on the same night.

In a remarkable demonstration of resilience, Ms Bloch defied the thugs and was straight back to her job as a laundry worker the following day, refusing to allow racist bigots to stop her getting on with her life. "I feel very good here," she said. "My father was over visiting me two weeks ago and he asked me if I liked this place. I said 'yes', and I still say 'yes'. I'm happy to stay here."

The attack on her home was one of seven racist attacks in the Sydenham area in a two-week period in January. All involved bricks or stones being thrown through windows.

TARGETED IN THEIR HOMES

NINE people — including a child — escaped injury after pipe bombs exploded at their homes in racist attacks.

The lethal devices detonated at the properties lived in by families from Romania.

Police officers received reports a pipe bomb exploded outside a house in Lapwing Way in the Waterside of Londonderry. Four adults and one child in the house were uninjured.

Around the same time another pipe bomb exploded outside a house in the Lincoln Court area.

'IT'S NOT SAFE FOR MY CHILDREN'

TWO families were forced to flee their homes in fear for their children's lives in the wake of frightening attacks.

Four vehicles were burned out in the Whitewell Road area of north Belfast.

They belonged to two Polish families, one from Afghanistan and the other Slovakian.

A Polish man, who has lived in Northern Ireland for six years, said he had no idea where he, his wife and their children -- aged three and seven -- would go, but said he could not put their lives at risk.

"We have to move tonight," he told the Belfast Telegraph in January. "It is not safe for my children."

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Nightlife Galleries

More

Latest News

Latest Sport

Latest Showbiz