Page last updated at 16:56 GMT, Friday, 19 June 2009 17:56 UK

Rantzen - NI 'addicted to hatred'

Esther Rantzen
Esther Rantzen was speaking on the BBC's Question Time programme

Television presenter Esther Rantzen has defended remarks about Northern Ireland people being "addicted to hatred".

She made the comments on the BBC's Question Time about a spate of attacks on Romanians in Belfast in recent days.

Ms Rantzen said Northern Ireland had offered the world "a gleam of hope" but "suddenly in that society there erupts this new racism".

"It's as if it gives them a sense of identity because they only know who they are if they know who they hate."

The attacks met with widespread condemnation throughout Northern Ireland.

Ms Rantzen said she had been suggesting that "there may be people who miss the old days, that violence has become addictive".

"Why do they feel uninhibited enough to turn racial prejudice into violence? You see a lot of prejudice in the rest of the UK, but why turn it into violence?

"Is violence something which is so fresh in people's memories that they remember it with affection?"

The former That's Life presenter last month announced she was considering standing for election in the seat of Luton South, in protest at revelations surrounding the expenses claims of the local Labour MP, Margaret Moran.



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