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Neighbours rally around Belfast Polish families after race hate attack

By Sara Neill

Published 13/04/2015

A house targeted in Mountcollyer Avenue, north Belfast
A house targeted in Mountcollyer Avenue, north Belfast
Jerome Mullen, the Northern Ireland Honorary Polish Consul

A Polish man whose home was damaged in a race hate attack has thanked the people of Belfast for their help.

Vandals smashed windows in the house in Mountcollyer Avenue in Tiger's Bay on Friday night during a racially motivated crimewave on the street.

The incident came after attackers targeted two Polish families, one with small children, earlier in the week.

They broke windows, threw stones and shouted threats during the incidents last Monday and Tuesday.

Their latest victim, who does not want to be named, said it shattered the calm on the street where he has lived for almost 10 years.

He said: "I was in my bedroom at about 9.30pm on Friday when I heard a noise outside. I came downstairs and noticed the window was smashed."

Two men were spotted running from the scene. "I don't think they used a brick to break it, I couldn't find anything in the house, so maybe they used an axe or something like that," he said.

Despite the clean-up attempts, splinters of glass could still be spotted in the house yesterday. The front window has been boarded up with a piece of wood. "A driver from a local taxi firm heard what had happened, and when he picked me up he said he was sorry, that they were just scumbags. That's what I believe.

"It's good to hear those words because after such an incident you need some comfort. I have no reason to say all people here are like the men who smashed my window. They are just a tiny minority of the people," he said.

But the man revealed the crime had played on his mind.

An outreach worker from church also knocked on the man's door, giving his sympathies at what had happened.

He said the congregation was horrified and offered any help he could to the householder.

It is a message he has conveyed to the other families on Mountcollyer Avenue whose homes were attacked. A number of Polish families live in the street, and the victim said it has united them.

"Normally you have no time to speak with the people on your street, but then they see what's happened and start talking to you.

"My neighbour has a young daughter," he added, "I can't imagine how she would be affected if she was sitting in the house when someone would smash their window."

Jerome Mullen, the Northern Ireland Honorary Polish Consul, called on political leaders - including the First Minister and Deputy First Minister - to help stamp out such attacks. He said the Polish community was suffering acts of "vengeance".

"Clearly there is a lawless, disaffected group of young people wandering around this particular area taking their vengeance out on this community. The police have only made one arrest - that clearly is because they haven't got sufficient information to identify the people"

But North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds said: "Anyone who can assist the police investigation into these crimes should bring that information forward without delay." A police spokesman said the incident was being treated as hate crime.

Belfast Telegraph

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