Belfast Telegraph

Terror as hatchet thugs go on race-hate rampage in north Belfast

Hungarian family too scared to return home after attacks

By Nevin Farrell

A Hungarian man says he, his wife and five-month-old daughter may have to sleep in a bus station as they're too scared to return to their home after a series of race-hate attacks.

Atilla Biro (28) was speaking after three attacks in a 16-hour period resulted in a police helicopter hovering over the Hesketh area of north Belfast as tension soared.

Mr Biro said a Hungarian friend was threatened at knifepoint and told to get out of the area. On Friday night two Hungarians were injured after being attacked by a knife and a hatchet-wielding gang.

That was followed by an incident in which a wheelie bin was thrown through the window of the home of some Hungarians.

At 3.45pm on Saturday police said a knife-wielding gang threatened other Hungarians living in two houses at Hesketh Park.

All three attacks are being treated as race hate crimes by police.

Mr Biro said he was a friend of the men who were attacked.

"People met my friend in the street, he had a big knife and he showed my friend," he said.

"He said: 'You can't live here'. He was told to move to another address because we are coming from Hungary and we can't live here."

He said he did not feel it was safe for him, his wife and his five-month-old daughter to live there following the attacks.

"I can't go home, I can't bring my daughter home. Maybe tonight we sleep in the police station, bus station. We can't go back because it's very dangerous."

Yesterday at one of the targeted homes – an end-of-terrace dwelling beside a gospel hall – the front window was boarded up and nobody was inside.

Residents said they did not want to see such trouble in the area.

One man, who did not wish to be named, said: "I don't want to see any race hate crime here and just want everybody to live and let live."

A resident originally from France said she was told by some locals not to worry and that she would come to no harm.

She said she previously suffered racism when she lived in east Belfast and was mistaken for an eastern European, but she said she hadn't experienced any bother in the Hesketh area.

North Belfast DUP councillor Brian Kingston has condemned the attacks and appealed for calm in the area.

"There are a number of foreign nationals living in this area who have lived there peaceably for some time and are part of that community.

"These attacks are out of character for this close-knit community and I hope that this will be an isolated incident," he said.

Alliance councillor Nuala McAllister said: "I know the vast majority of the local community are totally opposed to all forms of racism.

"There is no place for racism in our society.

"We must do more to make Northern Ireland an open and welcoming place for everyone.

"My thoughts go out to the victims of these incidents."

Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly said: "Racists who carry out such despicable actions in an attempt to instil fear into families living here need to be taken off our streets."

Last week a Hungarian household had windows broken by baseball-bat wielding attackers in the Woodvale area of north Belfast.

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