A campaign of attacks against foreign nationals living in Antrim could force some to flee the area, it has been claimed.
The warning came after a pipe-bomb was left on the windowsill of a Polish couple's home at Seacash Drive yesterday. Community representatives said it was the latest in a series of incidents targeting foreigners in the town.
The alert began around 8am yesterday and saw the Parkhall Road closed and nearby homes evacuated for several hours. A PSNI spokesperson confirmed that a viable device had been taken away for examination.
UUP councillor Adrian Watson said he was hopeful that the family would stay in Antrim.
“They are giving it a lot of thought, although they are obviously very shaken,” he said.
There have been other racist attacks recently in Antrim.
“Last week a mob attacked a house belonging to foreign nationals and put the windows in, and the same night graffiti went up saying that foreigners were not welcome,” said Mr Watson. “There is no justification for it.”
Maciek Bator from the Polish Association warned that some foreign residents may leave.
“Some people will decide to move out of this area and some will decide to move out of Northern Ireland,” he said.
“They will take a bad image of Northern Ireland with them.”
A loyalist group claimed responsibility for the attack in a call to a news organisation. Progressive Unionist Party Ken Wilkinson — whose own home was targeted in a pipe-bomb attack last year — visited the family and apologised for what had happened.
He said: “These people carried this out in the name of loyalism, these people are loyal to nothing. These people are just bigots.”
Graffiti attacking the PUP — calling it the ‘Polish Unity Party’ — has also appeared in the area.
PSNI area commander Chief Inspector Natalie Wilson appealed information about the attack.
Around 30,000 Polish people are believed to be living in Northern Ireland.
The influx has been relatively recent, and increased since Poland joined the European Union in 2004, with many coming on a short term basis for work.
According to community representatives, there has been a spate of attacks on foreign nationals living in Antrim recently.