Page last updated at 14:18 GMT, Saturday, 20 June 2009 15:18 UK

Protest held over racist attacks

An anti-racism rally was held at Belfast's City Hall

A crowd of about 200 people have attended an anti-racism rally at Belfast City Hall.

The event was held to highlight the plight of more than 100 Romanian people who left their homes after racist attacks in south Belfast last week.

Patricia McKeown of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions called for people to stand together against discrimination.

"We should be here in our tens of thousands and I'm sure as this campaign takes off we will be," she said.

"We understand what oppression and discrimination is and we cannot accept that it happens to anyone in our society, but particularly those who are the most vulnerable."

"Our brothers and sisters from Romania and from the Roma community are human beings with dignity and they deserve their rights."

Meanwhile, two teenagers arrested over some of the attacks are still being questioned.

Two houses in the Donegall Avenue area were searched during the police operation.

A number of Romanian families had to leave their homes on Tuesday and were housed in temporary accommodation.

woman with suitcase
A number of Romanian families left their homes after attacks

A Romanian family was also attacked in east Belfast on Wednesday when a window was smashed in their home on the Upper Newtownards Road.

The Romanian ambassador to the UK, Dr Ion Jinga, has discussed the attacks with PSNI Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde and Belfast's Lord Mayor Naomi Long.

Barbara Muldoon from the anti-racism network. which organised the rally said: "We believe we need a co-ordinated response to these attacks and we need to find space for people to express both their sympathy with the families and their anger against they racists.

"We are hoping that this rally will be the first of many called to protest these attacks, and we are urging people to take the time to come down to the rally on Saturday."

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