Yob throws faeces at Romanian man cycling through east Belfast
A Romanian man has had faeces thrown at him during a "sickening" racist attack in east Belfast.
The attack comes just a week after figures obtained by the Belfast Telegraph showed a worrying 43% spike in reported attacks on ethnic minorities across Northern Ireland.
Police reported that the man was targeted as he cycled along the Newtownards Road at around 9.15am yesterday, before his attacker made off in the direction of the Island Resource Centre.
Police have labelled the attack a hate crime and said the victim received hospital treatment.
A spokesman said: "A Romanian male was cycling countrywards on the Newtownards Road when an unknown male, wearing dark clothing, threw faeces around the male."
East Belfast MP Naomi Long said it was a sickening and deplorable attack on an innocent man.
"This was nothing less than a disgusting piece of violence that culminated in a man being covered in excrement," she said.
"To attack any person in such a depraved and vile manner is nothing less than despicable.
"To do so on a main road in broad daylight shows a blatant and brazen disregard for the rule of law.
"I wish the victim well and hope he makes a swift recovery from his ordeal.
"There can never be any justification for violence and I would encourage anyone with information to pass it to the police."
Ulster Unionist councillor Chris McGimpsey added: "Anyone who engages in racist attacks is attacking the tolerance and generosity of spirit for which the people of Belfast are rightly famed.
"They represent no one."
The incident is the second of its kind this year after it was reported to police that excrement was thrown at a young foreign street busker in the centre of Belfast.
Last week, figures showed that there were 156 race crimes across Northern Ireland in the first three months of this year compared to 103 for the same period in 2013.
The majority of incidents took place in north Belfast (27), followed by the east (23) and south (16) of the city. It was claimed that Belfast could become the race hate capital of the UK. More than two race attacks are reported to police every day, with equality campaigners concerned up to 80% of incidents go unreported.
Across Northern Ireland, there were 199 reports of racist incidents in the same three-month period, with 234 sectarian confrontations and 53 homophobic incidents.
The PSNI said recently that they are in no doubt about the involvement of paramilitary groups following a the spate of recent hate crimes.
Attacks in south and east Belfast led a senior police officer to comment that the crimes left "the unpleasant taste of a bit of ethnic cleansing".
The loyalist paramilitary UVF is believed to be behind some of the attacks.