Dramatic rise in racism attacks in NI

Published Tuesday, 15 April 2014
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Police figures show that there has been a huge rise in the number of racist attacks in the past 12 months, however, work is underway to help tackle the growing problem in communities.

Dramatic rise in racism attacks in NI
Police say there has been a rise in hate crimes. (© UTV)

Over the past year there has been an increase of more than 43% of attacks across the whole of Northern Ireland, with the majority taking place in Belfast.

Figures show that over 70% of attacks have taken place in the city and the police say that in some areas the violence is being carried out by loyalist paramilitaries, namely the UVF.

Assistant Chief Constable Will Kerr said: "We have to be very careful with numbers, they don't tell the full story.

"There has been a lot of under reporting over the years, but a lot of the government strategies have been designed to increase reports so that we get a more accurate and informed picture about the scale of the problem so that we can inform our response.

"We have been actively trying to encourage people to report hate crime, whether it is sectarian or racism."

The nature of recent crimes is very insidious in nature, they are very direct physical manifestations of hatred and intolerance, the nature of which should cause us very significant concern.

ACC Will Kerr

The senior police officer described an incident when a Romanian man had a bag of excrement thrown over him in a busy street in Belfast.

He continued: "When we spoke to that victim he pointed out that in the same area the majority of people had been more supportive.

"So we need to keep a degree of perspective and that the attacks are carried out by a minority of people."

ACC Kerr said loyalist paramilitaries were behind many of the attacks.

"In south and east Belfast the UVF has been actively involved in orchestrating these attacks," said the policeman.

Recently racist leaflets, claiming to be from the 'British Movement' were put through the letter boxes of homes in north Belfast.

The material is titled "Immigration has ruined our nation".

Les Allamby of the Northern Ireland Strategic Migration Partnership dismissed the content of the leaflets.

He said: "Migrants contribute to society, they pay more in tax than they take out in public services.

"Not only are these leaflets wrong morally, they are actually wrong in terms of what is going on in society."

Ethnic cultures bring a lot of positives to Northern Ireland and we should be proud to have them here.

George Newell

In east Belfast work is underway to try and educate people about the benefits of other cultures and how they contribute to our society.

George Newell from Lagan Village Youth and Community Group added: "We have to move with the times.

"Ethnic cultures bring a lot of positives to Northern Ireland and we should be proud to have them here."

The group Alternatives helps mediate between racism victims and those involved in attacks.

Deborah Watters from the organisation said: "We engage with the victims and young people to prevent attacks.

"We also deliver anti-racism workshops in primary schools to try and reach young people at a very early stage to help challenge attitudes and behaviours."

© UTV News
Comments Comments
lucylou in belfast wrote (289 days ago):
Re Fred's comment on East Belfast; I feel for Fred if he's a genuine resident and that's how he feels but please; a bit of perspective is called for. East Belfast is a big place and' tarring everyone with the one brush' is not helpful, either there or in the North, West or South of the city. There are a majority of decent people in all these areas it's just that, as always, it's the minority who hit the headlines. It can be especially upsetting if you live in a 'bad' section that may have become as Fred describes but it's hardly fair to write off thousands of people in one short statement.
culchy in the stix wrote (290 days ago):
Hardly surprising, Belfast can't cope with having two cultures let alone foreigners bringing in new ideas.
realistic in planet earth wrote (290 days ago):
@lucylou in belfast, I didn't take Fred's comment like that. I took it that he is disappointed, and sad, that what was once a great place to live, with great people has descended into the mess it is now....... but I suppose we all have our opinions and ways of interpreting things......and yours is of course as valid as any one else's......Also I'm sure there are people in other communities who feel the same.
lucylou in belfast wrote (290 days ago):
God bless you Fred in Belfast. You must be VERY unhappy! I am sure if you could move away from that dreadful community you live among your nerves would feel the benefit. I t must be awful lonely to be the only respectable, genuine, open, accepting, hard working person to be found in East Belfast. At least that's how your post reads. How you describe your community is not peculiar to the east of the city and certainly not every person is as you would have us believe. Then maybe you don't know many people OR you are paranoid [just a bit?].
jl in belfast wrote (291 days ago):
i am not a racist and i think racist hate crime is wrong and every human deserves a place in society to live a safe and happy life but after watching a show on tv the people being documented are immigrants and they make it out as though its all about greed and money not because they are afraid for there life in there own countrys the way the media make out. did any body watch channel 5s programme gypsys on benefits and proud? its not about the irish/english travelling community its about the Romania immigrants coming to our country for the sole purpose of getting benefits and sending them home while they live off robbery, pickpocketing, the drugs trade, sex traffiking, and prostitution , scrap metal and taking it from peoples homes its a disgrace. apparantly there target is £40, 000 in benefits to send home then they leave, but in the process of staying here they dont care who they hurt to get there money or how they get it and all this info came from there own mouths on a television documentary . they have no interest in making our economy grow they just want the money and homes that the majority of our population here in northern ireland and the uk cannot even get and our goverment lets it happen it baffles me
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