UVF blamed for race hate
A racist attack in east Belfast has been described as "worrying" by a local MLA, given a common thread of recent attacks.
Robin Newton was speaking as it was announced that police are now treating as a hate crime an attack on a house in the Bloomfield Drive area on Saturday.
The Housing Executive house was painted with racist slurs and graffiti between 1am and 7am.
The attack has been linked to the UVF by Patrick Yu of the Northern Ireland Council for Ethnic Minorities saying that "there is no organisation which can initiate that kind of action".
It is thought that the family, originally from Zimbabwe, were to move into the house this weekend having moved from another part of Belfast due to racism issues.
The family did not wish to be contacted but it has been confirmed that they are still planning to move to the premises.
In August, racist slurs were painted on a house of a Nigerian man who had also just moved into a house in the Wayland Street area.
DUP MLA Robin Newton described the closeness and similarity of the attacks as worrying and wrong.
"This is the second such incident within recent weeks. East Belfast people are warm and friendly and are good neighbours who want to get along with everyone," he said.
"Those who carry out such bigoted acts have nothing to offer our community and should stop. The police have rightly described this scandalous act as a hate crime."
Alliance Councillor Laura McNamee who used to live in the area said that the reports were not reflective of the close-knit community and added that there were a number of international families living in the area.
"This attack is totally despicable and the community is united in condemning it," she said.
"People should be able to live without fear of intimidation and there is no place in our society for this type of crime.
"Those behind this disgusting attack do not speak for the community and must be apprehended and punished for their actions. I would call on anyone with information to come forward and contact the PSNI as soon as possible," she added.
A Housing Executive spokesperson said that while they could not comment on individual cases, their staff had been in contact with the family and visited the site.
"The family has confirmed to us that they are still willing to proceed with the tenancy and the Housing Executive is making arrangements to have the graffiti removed as a matter of urgency."
Kerry Melville, chairperson of the East Belfast Ethnic Minority Support Network, said: "There is no place in our society for racial hatred and intimidation. It is totally unacceptable that people are being targeted because of their race. People have a right to live without fear."
We are living in an increasingly diverse and multi-cultural city, which should be openly celebrated."