Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 27 December 2014

Hard-working migrants deserve a warm welcome

As if Northern Ireland did not have enough troubles already, with sectarianism and political divisions, now there is the added worry of racism which has once again has raised its ugly head.

This time it has occurred in east Belfast where a gang of thugs carried out seven racist attacks on Polish people within 10 days.

The latest attack took place on Anna Bloch, who escaped shaken but unhurt when a brick was thrown through the window of a house in Inverary Drive, where she has been living with her mother and stepfather.

A window in the nearby house of her brother and sister-in-law was also smashed in the series of attacks by racist thugs.

Anna, who has lived here for several years without incident, has said she is staying on, but sadly her mother is thinking about moving away – which is understandable in the circumstances.

The local MP Naomi Long is no doubt correct when she says that such acts of intimidation "do not define this part of the city" and that they are perpetrated by a minority, with little or no public support.

However, it takes only a few people to cast a shadow over any area of the city.

Yesterday, Ms Bloch was occupied for almost 12 hours as a laundry worker and we wonder how many, if any, of her attackers were working similarly hard.

By her industry and initiative, Anna typifies the many Polish and other hard-working migrants, who are a credit to themselves and to our society.

They deserve a warm welcome from all of us and it was good to note that Mary Barr's kindness in visiting people who have been made to feel so unwelcome by a tiny minority of racists in our midst.

That is the real kind of Northern Ireland welcome for which we are rightly famed.

In the meantime we strongly deplore all such racist attacks, and we call for the strongest possible penalties to be imposed on those who are convicted of such anti-social behaviour.

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