Belfast Telegraph

Two face charges as spate of racist attacks continues in Northern Ireland

By Joanne Fleming

An Assembly member has said a man out for a walk was racially abused and beaten for no reason.

Alliance MLA Trevor Lunn was speaking after two men were charged with the latest racist attack in Northern Ireland, which left a man with head injuries.

The 35-year-old victim, who is black, was assaulted while walking on the Lagan towpath in Lisburn at around 3.30pm on Saturday.

A gang of three men reportedly shouted racist abuse at him, then punched him several times in the head.

The man got away and sought refuge in a bar in Bridge Street.

He was then taken to hospital for treatment to injuries not believed to be life-threatening.

Condemning the attack, Mr Lunn said: "I really don't know what's between the ears of the people who do this type of thing.

"This man was out for a walk apparently.

"He was racially abused and then set on and given a hiding for no reason whatsoever."

The two men charged, aged 18 and 22, are accused of assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

They also face charges of possession of an offensive weapon, behaviour intending or likely to stir up hatred and threats to kill.

The 22-year-old is due to appear in court in Lisburn today, while the 18-year-old will appear on June 19. A 16-year-old boy also arrested was released pending a report to the Public Prosecution Service.

The assault on the towpath follows a spate of disturbing racist attacks in Belfast, with fears that the city is fast becoming the hate crime capital of the UK.

Chief Constable Matt Baggott told a recent meeting of the Policing Board his force was determined to clamp down on those behind racist attacks.

"We are working very closely with the housing associations and the council and we are not going to tolerate any attacks.

"The success of a city is always about its diversity," he insisted.

The UVF has been blamed for many of the attacks.

Among recent hate-fuelled crimes were attacks on three homes in the Roslyn Street area of east Belfast.

Graffiti saying 'locals only' and 'get out' was scrawled on walls of the properties.

A 28-year-old Polish woman who lives in one of the homes, said she and her nine-year-old child were considering leaving the area because of the incident.

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