Page last updated at 12:11 GMT, Wednesday, 17 June 2009 13:11 UK

Community condemns 'racist thugs'

Politicians and community leaders have been reacting to the racist attacks in Belfast which led Romanian families to flee their homes.

GORDON BROWN, PRIME MINISTER
I hope the authorities are able to take all the action necessary to protect them.

MARTIN MCGUINNESS, SINN FEIN

We need a collective effort to face down these criminals in society who are quite clearly intent on preying on vulnerable women and children.

We are going to do everything in our power to ensure these criminals, these racist criminals, don't have their way.


MICHAEL MCGIMPSEY, HEALTH MINISTER

I utterly condemn this outrageous attack on these Roma families. I am appalled at this situation.

There is no place in Northern Ireland for this kind of racist violence and abuse. We value the contribution that people from all nationalities make to the life of Northern Ireland. Everyone who lives here deserves to be treated with respect and dignity.

I am very encouraged that so many of the neighbours and local community groups in south Belfast have rallied to support the families and show their disgust at such appalling acts of intimidation.


JEFFREY DONALDSON, DUP

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.

I know these people are not representative of the people of the Village area of south Belfast.


ALASDAIR MCDONNELL, SDLP

We have reached a serious turning point when low-level racist intimidation turns to mass expulsion under police escort.

I am glad to hear that a local church responded with emergency accommodation and the city council and other agencies are stepping up to the mark.

However, the real issue for our whole community is to bring everyone back to their homes and offer them proper protection.

That means identifying the culprits quickly and getting them in front of the courts. Then we need to tackle the twin evils of sectarianism and racism head on instead of just responding to events.


NAOMI LONG, ALLIANCE

They have a right to be in Belfast. They are part of the fabric of this city. I want to see them treated with the respect and dignity that I would demand for any other citizen.

This is a small number of people who are engaged in this violence. I understand this is cold comfort to the people affected by it.


EVELYN COLLINS, EQUALITY COMMISSION
The attacks over the past few days which have forced a number of Romanian families to leave their homes in south Belfast are a grim reflection of the persistence of racial prejudice within our society.

This terrible situation must be met with a clear and positive response from police, public authorities and local communities, and the commission will continue to work with all of these bodies to combat racial discrimination and challenge prejudice within Northern Ireland.

We have to assure members of minority ethnic communities here that the great majority of people in Northern Ireland are shocked by these racist attacks and that they have our support.




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SEE ALSO
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