There is no evidence to suggest a series of attacks on Romanian families in south Belfast was orchestrated, police have said.
PSNI Chief Inspector Robert Murdie was speaking after youths attacked an anti-racist demonstration on Monday.Residents were protesting on the Lisburn Road over a spate of attacks on immigrant families living in the area.A group of youths leaving a bar were heckled by demonstrators and retaliated with bottles and Nazi salutes.No-one was injured in the incident.Police were called to the scene, but the crowds dispersed peacefully and the area now appears to be quiet.Police have said they are investigating racist incidents and criminal damage in the area over the last four days.Chief Inspector Murdie said the number of patrols had been increased.”It is very difficult to try to be in an area 24 hours a day to try to stop these attacks happening,” he said.”The local community are probably aware of who these individuals are.”He appealed to local people to give police names and identify those carrying out the attacks.Protest organiser Paddy Meehan said there had been continual attacks from Wednesday.”People are absolutely livid about what has been happening here and it has to stop,” he said.”This protest has sent a clear message that people do not want this going on in their area and that this has to stop right now.”Demonstrators had shouted “Nazis off our streets” as the youths passed and the youths gave Nazi salutes.The Alliance Party’s Anna Lo said that the trouble at the rally was a “disgrace” but that those throwing bottles were “a small minority”.”We are all here to show support for the migrant workers who have been attacked and have been hounded out from one street to another street,” she said. Earlier, two houses inhabited by a Romanian family were targeted in a racist attack.A gang smashed windows and terrorised pregnant women and children in attacks on houses on Belgravia and Wellesley avenues.It was claimed that the people who attacked the house were shouting Combat 18 slogans and a letter containing text from Hitler’s Mein Kampf was pushed through the letterbox of one of the properties.A number of migrant families subsequently decided to leave their homes.One of the organisers of the protest, Paddy Meehan has also criticised the police for misinforming the media that the families under attack were Polish, when in fact they are Romanian. Mr. Meehan explained “The police’s reports to the media that the families under attack are Polish is particularly dangerous after recent tensions in the area after the clashes at the recent Northern Ireland Poland football match.”Log of eventsWednesday 10th JuneAbout 5pm: Crowd of 15 attacked member of Romanian family on Wellesely Avenue.At 11pm: Police called after attack on house on 14 Belgravia Ave – Police arrive at 12.30amThursday 11th JuneAbout 10pm: Assault on member of family at 113 Wellesely Avenue by a gang estimated 15 people, hit with large plank of wood – broken nose and injuries to head and back – child also hit – Police were phoned but when they arrived they did not chase after gang when they fled.Friday 12th JuneAbout 9.30pm – Attack on house at 14 Belgravia AveAbout 12am: Group of 6 or 7 attack house at 14 Belgravia Ave with stones. While running away from scene they shouted “Up Combat 18 – Out with Pakis” and retreated behind billboards at the top of Ulsterville Ave. Police were informed through 999 emergency number of their whereabouts. 15 minutes later gang returned and attempted to kick front door in. 10 minutes after second attack police arrived.Saturday 13th JuneAbout 5.30pm – Gang of seven racists threw stones at family outside 14 Belgravia Ave. Police phoned immediately and arrive ten minutes later. Another attack on 14 Belgravia Avenue between 1am and 2am. Police contacted and arrived. Family leave house on Belgravia Ave.About 1am – Attack on houses at 113 Wellesley Ave and 78 Wellington Park – Police phoned at 1am – Police said they were busy. Residents told police they were worried because there was a two day old baby as well as other children in the house. Police arrive at roughly 1.30pm.Monday 15thPolice inform media that families are Polish, not Romanian.
Residents who organised an anti-racist protest on the Lisburn Rd in Belfast last night have criticised some reports which claimed that the protest was abandoned due to a small group of youths hurling bricks and bottles at the protestors.
Paddy Meehan, a spokesperson for the residents stated “We are disappointed that a reporter for a major broadcaster misreported last nights events, claiming that we abandoned our protest because of the attacks. This is completely untrue. As has been independently verified by footage on UTV, we succeeded in chasing them and forced them to disperse. In fact the protest grew larger after the racist thugs threw bottles at us. The protest then continued for forty minutes and a rota of residents was organised to defend the families overnight. As a result of this action on the ground there have been no attacks for the past two nights.”Mr. Meehan added that “attempts from some quarters to blame residents for provoking the racists into attacking the protest by chanting anti-racist slogans were letting the racists off the hook. The media needs to focus on the fact that a small number of racist thugs are still intent on attacking homes and putting the lives of young children in danger.”