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Last Updated: Tuesday, 9 November, 2004, 18:46 GMT
'Open mind' over racist attacks
Graffiti was sprayed on the doors of houses
Graffiti was sprayed on the doors of houses
The police say they are keeping an open mind about who is behind the latest racist attacks in Belfast.

Graffiti was discovered on homes and cars at Queen Victoria Gardens in Skegoneill and Fortwilliam Parade at about 0145 GMT on Tuesday.

It told members of the Chinese and Filipino communities to get out. Swastikas and other right-wing slogans were also sprayed.

The police said they could not rule out links between the attacks and far right group Combat 18.

Sergeant Allen Jones said: "Those particular symbols and signs have always been associated with right wing and racist groups, so it's nothing unusual to see those being daubed in a racist manner," he said.

"At the same time, if we just focus our minds on that particular group and only follow that line of inquiry, we would be failing in our duty.

Nigel Dodds: No excuse for behaviour
Nigel Dodds: No excuse for behaviour

"We really have to keep an open mind as to who may have caused these attacks and follow every line of inquiry to its fruition."

Maria Maglano, who is a nurse at the Mater hospital in Belfast, said she could not understand why the families had been targeted.

"I've been here for more than three years and I never experienced this (before)," she said.

"There are so many Filipinos now living in this area. Before there were only two families, but now there are, I think, seven."

A car belonging to a man from the area was also targeted by mistake.

North Belfast DUP MP Nigel Dodds said there was no excuse for such behaviour.

"The people behind this kind of activity need to realise that they will achieve absolutely nothing except the contempt of decent law-abiding people," he said.

Belfast Lord Mayor Tom Ekin said it was the latest in a long line of attacks against the Filipino community.

"Those behind this attack are a tiny minority who represent no-one," he said.

"They certainly do not represent the vast majority of the people of the area who are outraged that this has happened."

Sadly the attacks we hear about through the media are just the tip of the iceberg
Davy Carlin
Anti Racism Network

SDLP assembly member Alban Maginness said it was a "disturbing and deplorable act which only served to intimidate the Filipino and Chinese families".

"The families who were subjected to this appalling racial abuse have lived peacefully in the area for some time. It is horrifying to think that their peace of mind has been disturbed in this way."

Sinn Fein assembly member Gerry Kelly claimed loyalist paramilitaries were trying to "export" racism from the Donegall Road area to north Belfast.

"I am calling on those with influence in the loyalist community to do whatever is in their power to stop these attacks," he said.

"To stand by and say nothing is as the equivalent to condoning racism."

The Anti Racism Network (ARN) said the Filipino community had been targeted for some time but attacks had increased since the President of the Philippines condemned the victimisation in April.

Chairman Davy Carlin said: "Sadly the attacks we hear about through the media are just the tip of the iceberg.

"The ARN is concerned at how racist attacks are becoming more violent and spreading to places with no history of racist violence."

The police have appealed for anyone who has any information about the latest attacks to contact them.




SEE ALSO:
Condemnation of racist attack
21 Aug 04 |  Northern Ireland
Filipino leader condemns NI attack
02 Apr 04 |  Northern Ireland
Stand against race hate
30 Oct 04 |  Northern Ireland


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