Terrified schoolgirls victims of vile racial abuse in Belfast city centre
"I'm a f****ing Prod, and I've been homeless for the past three f***ing years.
Police are investigating a shocking incident in Belfast city centre in which three teenage girls were subjected to a tirade of foul-mouthed racial abuse.
The three teenagers - all aged 14 - were sitting on a bench at Belfast's City Hall on Saturday when they were approached by a woman who shouted racist insults at them.
One of the teenagers managed to video the incident on her smartphone.
The footage shows the angry woman ranting at the three children.
"See yousuns? Give it about five to 10 f***ing months and you'll be f***ing outta here," she shouted at the youngsters.
"I'm a f****ing Prod, and I've been homeless for the past three f***ing years. Then they walk into the country and get f***ing everything," the woman yelled.
Young journalist Grainne McKinney was an eyewitness to the foul rant.
Last night, she said she felt ashamed of her city after what she had witnessed. "I rang the police and was talking to one of the girls who had taken videos of the woman. She was kind enough to send the videos, along with this message: 'Please let people see this. It happens every day and no one does anything about it. We're just school kids sitting in town - didn't even expect this to ever happen'."
"I know Belfast is messed up at the best of times", said Grainne, "but watching those videos I've never felt so ashamed of this city."
The shocking footage has been shared thousands of times on social media. On Grainne's Facebook page alone, there were hundreds of outraged comments from people horrified by the treatment of the three schoolgirls.
On social media, one of the victims said she and her friends were scared by the onslaught.
"We didn't do anything to deserve any of this," she said.
"We were literally sitting there minding our own business and she just decided to come and take out her rage on us.
"We were so confused sitting there getting racial comments thrown at us.
"I was so terrified for me and my friends."
South Belfast Alliance councillor Kate Nicholl - who is originally from Zimbabwe - condemned the incident.
"The foul-mouthed footage on this video is disgusting, disturbing and disgraceful. There's no place for racism in our society," she said.
Former Belfast Lord Mayor Brian Kingston added: "This sort of hate crime must not be dismissed lightly, even though the abuser seems to have personal difficulties to work through. It demonstrates a crude racism which still exists within our society."
Calling for more police patrols in the city centre, SDLP Botanic councillor Declan Boyle said it was outrageous the girls were subjected to such abuse.
He also praised Ms McKinney for contacting the police and staying with the teenagers in the wake of the incident.
"She represents the real spirit of Belfast," he said.
Independent councillor Ruth Patterson described the incident as "horrific and unacceptable".
"It doesn't represent the city or the community the woman claims to be from," she said.
PSNI Sergeant Nicola McHenry said: "We received reports yesterday evening that a blonde-haired female was shouting racial abuse at three other females who were sitting on a bench in the Donegall Square West area of the city. Police were unable to locate the female who is described as being in her late teens or 20s and was wearing a spotted raincoat and black leggings.
"If anyone has any further information about this incident, they should contact police on the non-emergency number 101.