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Filipino family's home 'targeted because of race'

Published 16/11/2016

Police are investigating the attack on the home in north Belfast
Police are investigating the attack on the home in north Belfast

A Filipino family whose north Belfast home has been attacked seven times in the past month say they believe they are being targeted because of their race.

Stones were thrown at the Brae Hill Link house in the Ballysillan area on Tuesday night, shattering glass in the window of a front door.

Cleo Enriquez, 39, a biomedical scientist originally from the Philippines, said her family have been left feeling scared and stressed.

She said: "The truth is I don't really know why we are being targeted. We just leave the house in the morning and return at night time.

"We just work, our house is quiet. The only thing we can think of is that we are different.

"You don't like to think it is racially motivated but that is the only thing we can think of."

Mrs Enriquez, her husband Memet, a nurse, and their two children aged eight and 15 have lived in the property for more than a decade.

After an attack last year, they installed CCTV.

"The throwing of stones is a regular occurrence," she added. " Last year in the winter they were throwing snowballs, then stones and then eggs at the front door.

"We reported that to the police because I thought it was not acceptable - a snowball is fine but not the eggs.

"We have tried to tolerate this as long as we can because we thought it's just kids wanting to get a reaction.

"My husband thought we needed to install the CCTV to deter them but it hasn't worked. We can't rest in the house - we are constantly out and every night you are thinking 'what will they do or will they come again?'

"My husband is like a spy after dinner; he just goes upstairs and watches out the window. It has really had an impact on our life."

The Police Service of Northern Ireland has confirmed they are treating the attack as a hate crime.

A spokeswoman said: "Police are aware of an incident of criminal damage that was reported just after 8pm last night at Brae Hill Link in North Belfast. We are actively investigating and treating it as a hate motivated incident.

"We believe this incident and a further incident reported in January 2016 that police have been made aware of, will be condemned by everyone in the local community. We are therefore hopeful that information will be provided that will directly lead to those responsible being held to account."

North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds has condemned the incident and appealed for anyone with information to contact police.

He said: "This is a deplorable act upon a family who have made Belfast their home for upwards of 14 years. Nobody should be subjected to this level of intimidation in their home and I utterly condemn those responsible.

"This family contribute much to society here in Northern Ireland, living and working here.

"I believe this is the seventh attack on the family, who have two children and it is very disappointing that individuals think it is acceptable to act in this way. They do not represent the Ballysillan community."

Meanwhile, Mrs Enriquez said she had been overwhelmed by the level of support since speaking out.

She also vowed the family would not be intimidated out of their home, adding: "I don't think we would consider moving.

"I was planning to finish paying the mortgage; we have the kids and their schools - I don't even know where we would go."

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