Belfast Telegraph

Police investigate after cars are set on fire in Belfast hate crime

A number of cars were set on fire in east Belfast on Sunday morning.

Police received a report shortly before 4.15am that a car parked on Florida Street had been set on fire.

The car was extensively damaged as a result and a number of other cars parked nearby were also damaged in the incident.

Around the same time police on patrol in the area of Wayland Street discovered a small fire on the bonnet of a parked car. The fire was extinguished. Damage was caused to the bonnet and windscreen of the car.

Later, police received a report that a car parked in Carlingford Street had also been set on fire, which was extensively damaged as a result.

Police are investigating a link between these incidents and are treating them as racially motivated hate crimes.

Police are appealing for anyone who witnessed the incidents or anyone with any information that can assist with the investigation to contact officers in Strandtown Police Station on 101 quoting reference 362 22/10/17.

Sinn Fein councillor Mairead O'Donnell has condemned those behind the racist attacks in east Belfast.

She said: I condemn outright those responsible for these despicable and cowardly racist attacks.

"These racist attacks come on the back of UVF intimidation which saw four catholic families forced to leave their homes in Cantrell Close just a few streets away from this morning's arson attacks.

"Those responsible for these attacks have shown blatant disregard for the community. The racists need to hear loud and clear that their cowardly actions are unacceptable."

The Sinn Fein representative added: "What we need to see is leadership from political unionism. Political leaders must set the example and desist for language or actions, which offend against the identity of anyone in this society.

"I would encourage anyone with information to contact the PSNI and I will be asking the PSNI do they believe there is any paramilitary involvement in these attacks."

UUP councillor Sonia Copeland has said that the hate crime cannot be tolerated in any shape or form.

The UUP representative said: "It is vile that anyone would be targeted in an attempt to make them feel unwelcome in an area. Hate crime cannot be tolerated in any shape or form.

"I would appeal to anyone who has information that could help the PSNI to catch those responsible to come forward."

Councillor Copeland added: "Those who are acting in this vile way need to consider the effect it has, not just on the victims who are now left without vehicles, but also on the entire area.

"Just last week I had a series of meetings to discuss potential investment in these areas, those responsible for these attacks need to think about what they are doing to east Belfast's reputation."

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