Anti-Romanian racism in Belfast

This video is called Belfast racist attacks on Romanian families condemned by McGuinness.

From British daily The Morning Star:

Romanians flee racist attacks

Wednesday 17 June 2009

by Paddy McGuffin

Over 100 Romanians have been forced out of their homes because of the vicious racist attacks

More than 100 Romanians who have been driven out of their homes in Belfast have been offered temporary housing by the Northern Ireland Executive.

Social Development Minister Margaret Richie offered them temporary refuge in vacant student accommodation for a week, while the Housing Executive worked on a more permanent solution.

Dozens of parents and children including a five-day-old baby had fled from their homes in the Lisburn Road area in fear for their lives.

The migrants, who are of Roma origin, took refuge in a nearby church hall on Tuesday night, too terrified to return to their homes.

Sections of a mob of youths had chanted “Combat 18“.

Combat 18 is an international, but primarily England-based, nazi terrorist organization, a tendency within the so called “Blood and Honour” movement. The “18” is an acronym for AH, Adolf Hitler, their “hero”. Combat 18 has links to sectarian “loyalist” gangs in Northern Ireland.

and given nazi salutes while they threw bricks through windows, while masked men directly threatened the refugees, telling them to get out or they would be shot.

The attack followed an anti-racist demonstration in support of the families by their neighbours on Monday evening, which had also been subjected to abuse and missile-throwing.

Belfast City Church pastor’s wife Trish Morgan said: “We had 113 people here overnight, including small babies and toddlers. The families were bewildered, frightened and just not sure how the situation had reached that stage.”

Politicians of all stripes have roundly condemned the horrific attacks.

Deputy First Minister and Sinn Fein MP Martin McGuinness, who visited the area today along with DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson, said: “I met with numerous families who are genuinely fearful for their lives and those of their families. I held a five-day-old baby girl in my arms today. She was born in Belfast and is now forced to leave her home as a result of attacks by racist, criminal thugs.”

Mr Donaldson said: “The actions of a tiny number of racist thugs in South Belfast is serving only to tarnish the image of Northern Ireland right across the globe.”

However, trade union representatives and equality workers argue that the attacks are indicative of a deepening malaise in Northern Ireland, at least partly fuelled by the main parties’ inaction.

Kevin Doherty of the Irish Committee of Trade Unions told the Star: “we totally condemn what has happened. We are still trying to get to the bottom of these attacks.

“We know the BNP have been trying to get a foothold in Northern Ireland and that they have a call centre in Belfast.

“We are not sure whether the BNP and Combat 18 are behind this attack or whether it is disaffected youths from the area.

“There were a spate of attacks on Polish workers in that area a while ago, but that wasn’t really reported. Around 60 families had to move out as a result.

“There are huge numbers of alienated youth in areas like this which have massive social deprivation and the peace process has passed these people by.

“Stormont has done nothing for these people and groups such as the BNP seek to exploit this.”

Equality Commission chief executive Evelyn Collins said: “The attacks over the past few days which have forced a number of Romanian families to leave their homes are a grim reflection of the persistence of racial prejudice within our society.”

Urgent meetings of community activists were in progress today in an attempt to resolve the issue.

20 thoughts on “Anti-Romanian racism in Belfast

  1. White migrant workers and racism

    Yuri Prasad (Socialist Worker, 9 July) makes some interesting comments on the history of racism, including the origins of the word “slave” in “Slav”.

    According to Prasad, eastern Europeans were the chief source of slavery in western Europe between the tenth and 16th centuries.

    It is indicative of the perverse nature of capitalism that it racialises various groups depending on the drive for profit at various historical periods.

    Eastern European migrant workers are now subject to racist abuse in ways that are similar to that experienced by Asian, black and other minority ethnic groups from the end of Second World War onwards. This would have been unimaginable 30 or 40 years ago.

    But racism directed at people with “white” skin is not confined to present-day Polish and other eastern European workers.

    Indeed, what I call “non-colour-coded racism” has a long history in Britain.

    This has included, both historically and in the present, antisemitism, anti‑Gypsy Roma and Traveller racism and Islamophobia.

    Mike Cole, Brighton


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