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article imageRomanians Flee Homes in Northern Ireland Following Racist Attacks

By Chris Dade     Jun 17, 2009 in World
Over 100 Romanian migrants were this morning moved to new shelter at Belfast's Ozone Leisure Complex following the night they spent in a church hall, where they had sought refuge after their homes in the south of the city were attacked.
In an escalation of recent events which have seen threats made against both Eastern European migrant workers and those who seek to help them, what the London Times described as four days of continuing attacks have led to some 20 Romanian families, said to belong to the Roma community, fleeing their homes in terror.
Politicians and Community Leaders, including British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, have spoken in condemnation of the attacks that took place in a city that has striven hard in recent years to throw off the violent image it acquired during the 30 years of the Northern Ireland Troubles. Whilst those Troubles largely pitted the Catholic and Protestant communities against each other there is no suggestion that this latest violence has any religious overtones.
The families have been visited at their latest temporary home by Northern Ireland Assembly Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and Junior Minister Jeffrey Donaldson and Mr McGuinness has described the ordeal the men, women and children have faced as a "totally shameful episode".
In their report on the attacks, which includes one man telling of how the mob attacking their home made gestures indicating that they would cut a baby's throat, the Independent newspaper attributes the violence to members of Combat 18, a sinister group of British neo-Nazis who take the second part of their name from the numerical position in the alphabet of Adolf Hitlers' initials.
Talks are under way amongst the various agencies as to how provide the best care for the victims of the attacks, some of whom have expressed a wish to return to Romania. However many of those who may wish to leave Northern Ireland do not have the funds to do so.
In expressing her own horror at the violence which has occurred, Lord Mayor Naomi Long, who has also visited the families affected, had this message for it's perpetrators:Belfast is growing rich in diversity with people from different cultures and ethnic backgrounds making this city their home, and each and every citizen has the right to live free from fear and intimidation. We cannot let a small minority of people detract from that, or allow them to drive people from their homes
As efforts continue to rehouse the families who fled their homes, there have been no reports of arrests being made in connections with the incidents in which the houses that were targeted had their windows smashed and their doors kicked in.
More about Northern ireland, Romanian, Racist
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