Page last updated at 19:52 GMT, Tuesday, 23 June 2009 20:52 UK

Romanians leave NI after attacks

One of over 100 people who left their homes
Many of the families have decided to leave Northern Ireland

One hundred Romanians who fled their homes in Belfast after a spate of recent attacks have decided to leave Northern Ireland and return to Romania.

Social Development Minister Margaret Ritchie said 25 people had already left and 75 were going to leave as soon as they could, 14 will stay in NI.

Meanwhile, a man has been remanded in custody charged with intimidating Romanian people in Belfast.

Shane Murphy, 21, of Donegall Road in the city, denies the charge.

His solicitor, who had applied for bail on his client's behalf, said Mr Murphy also denied a further charge of acting provocatively by shouting racist comments at a rally held on Lisburn Road in the city last week.

The judge, sitting at Belfast Magistrates Court, refused a bail application because he said there was a danger Mr Murphy could interfere with witnesses.

On Monday, a 15-year-old boy appeared in court charged in connection with the same incidents.

A 16-year-old boy appeared alongside him accused of provocative behaviour at the anti-racism rally.

The Housing Executive is paying for the families, members of the Roma ethnic group, to return to Romania using emergency funds.

A spokesman for the Northern Ireland Council for Ethnic Minorities said it was likely the remaining families would leave before the end of the week.

"We have all spoken to the the Romanian families and the majority of them want to go home," he said.

City Church, which last week provided temporary overnight shelter for the ethnic Roma, was targeted by vandals on Monday night.

Three men, all aged 20, were arrested in connection with the attack but later released.

Police are not linking this incident to the ongoing investigation into the attacks on Romanian families in south Belfast.

They said there was no indication that the attack on the church was hate or racially motivated

Pastor Malcolm Morgan said the church was covered in broken glass.

"I arrived this morning to find windows smashed at the front of our church and our main glass doorway smashed as well," he said.

"Stones were lying scattered on the floor inside and outside and obviously broken glass was everywhere."

Windows at the church were broken
The church provided shelter for about 20 Romanian familes

On Monday night, another two youths, aged 16 and 17, were arrested in connection with alleged provocative conduct and intimidation. They were released on Tuesday.

Police do not believe paramilitaries were involved in last week's attacks, which were condemned by all political parties.

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ONE News Romanians to leave N Ireland after attacks - 33 hrs ago
People's Daily Online Romanians attacked in Northern Ireland to go home - 35 hrs ago
Washington PostMost Romanians intimidated in Belfast leaving city - 43 hrs ago
RTE Online McAleese calls NI racism 'sickening' - 45 hrs ago
Mail Online UK 100 Romanians leave NI after racist attacks - 46 hrs ago
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