Belfast Telegraph

Hate crime probe as pig's head dumped at Belfast community centre

By Michael Sheils McNamee

A pig's head left at an east Belfast community centre alongside racist graffiti has been condemned.

The weekend incident at Inverary Community Centre also saw 'No Muslims' and 'No Blacks' daubed onto the building's shutters and walls, as well as a back-to-front swastika.

DUP MP for East Belfast Gavin Robinson described the attack as "appalling". He added: "It's not reflective of the local or the wider east Belfast community, and I am pleased to see that many local groups have spoken out in condemnation."

He added that it was positive that Belfast City Council - which owns the centre - had responded so quickly in removing the racist messages.

The last remnants of the graffiti were being powerwashed away when the Belfast Telegraph attended the scene yesterday.

One resident said that an incident like this was unexpected.

"I live around here and I see no signs of trouble. It's a lovely area," she said.

"It's not good for the community and it gives a false representation of the community that we live in."

Asked if they were shocked by the attack, a male resident said: "Well, so-so. It is not something you hear often around here. It must be somebody who has it in for somebody."

This is the second recent incident in which a pig's head has been used as part of a hate crime. One was left on the doorstep of an Islamic centre in Newtownards last month.

East Belfast Alliance councillor David Armitage said he believed this attack probably came from a "similar source".

"I am pretty shocked and surprised that the community centre was targeted like that and I will be trying to find out the reasons behind it," he said.

"Those responsible should really look at the way they are going and realise that the majority of people in Northern Ireland are disgusted by this and do not support these actions in any way."

PSNI Inspector Ian McCormick said: "Hate crime, in all its forms, is totally unacceptable.

"It is the responsibility of each and every one of us to ensure that we live in a society where diversity is respected.

"If you or someone you know is the victim of a hate crime, please contact police or your local support agency."

Anyone who may have been in the Inverary Avenue area in the early hours of Saturday morning has been encouraged to contact the PSNI on the non-emergency number 101 or to contact independent charity Crimestoppers independently on 0800 555 111.

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