Belfast Telegraph

MLA condemns Coalisland assault on Latvian men

By Cate McCurry

A racist attack in which two Latvian men were seriously injured has been widely condemned.

The foreign nationals were targeted by a group of men outside a bar in Coalisland, Co Tyrone, around 9pm on Easter Sunday.

Police said the victims, aged in their 30s, sustained cuts and bruises as well as possible facial fractures in the attack on Main Street.

Officers are treating the incident as a hate crime.

Sinn Fein MLA for Mid-Ulster Linda Dillon slammed those behind the attack.

"I condemn outright the racist attack against two members of the Latvian community last night in Coalisland," she said.

"The Latvian community and, indeed those from other countries who have chosen to make Coalisland their home, are an integral part of our community and are very welcome.

"Those responsible for this attack are a disgrace.

"We will not tolerate attacks against anyone due to their nationality, the language they speak or any other reason for that matter. There can be no place whatsoever for racism in our society.

"I would encourage anyone with information on this attack to contact the PSNI."

The attack came days after graffiti appeared in the town and also over the last few weeks in nearby Dungannon.

In Dungannon, IRA and gun graffiti was emblazoned across a roundabout, however, it was later covered up and days later Polish graffiti appeared at the same spot.

The spray-painted message suggested that the Polish community had a "right to live in the area".

Mid-Ulster MP Francie Molloy said there had been a sinister build-up to Sunday night's attack.

"I would call on people to stop this type of criminality," he said.

"This attack comes after graffiti appeared in Coalisland and Dungannon and the problem is it will lead to an escalation of incidents like these.

"This area has been very good over the past few years, there have been no attacks like these and we don't want to see it happening.

"It appears to be a mixture of graffiti and threats which are at risk of escalating into something much more serious.

"It's very rare for these types of attacks to happen in Coalisland and we certainly wouldn't want it to get out of hand so hopefully everyone will step back from it," he added.

"There is a very good relationship between the different communities in Coalisland."

PSNI inspector Neil Beck said: "The victims of this assault are both Latvian nationals and we are treating the incident as a hate crime.

"I would urge anyone who was in the Main Street area and who saw what happened to get in touch with police. The number to call is 101."

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