Page last updated at 09:11 GMT, Thursday, 6 August 2009 10:11 UK

Romas return after city attacks

A Roma carries belongings
News of the attacks made headlines around the world

Some of the Romas who left Belfast in June following a series of racist attacks have returned to the city.

About 12 Roma men have already returned and their families are to follow, in time for their children to start the new school term, it is understood.

More than 100 immigrants returned to Romania after the attacks, which made headlines around the world.

Their airfares were paid for by the Housing Executive, but they have had no financial aid in returning to NI.

Director of An Munia Tober Travellers Centre, Derek Hanway, said he believed the men had already found work for when they return to the city.

"I'm not aware of any government funding - they're making their own way back here if that's what they want to do," he said.

"We're aware of the legal restrictions that many Roma have. They're not coming back for benefits or to sponge off society - they're not entitled to, even if they wanted to.

"They're coming back to work and they're entitled to do so as EU citizens."

Belfast's Lord Mayor Naomi Long said she hoped they would receive a warm welcome upon their return.

"I think it's hugely encouraging that after being able to go home and reassure their families about the situation here that they feel confident enough to be able to return to Belfast, pick up and build a new life for themselves that they had already started here," she said.

"Most importantly, good neighbours can be a part of that process of just making people feel valued and welcome."

However, speaking on Good Morning Ulster, Finance Minister Sammy Wilson said he found aspects of the development "disturbing" and wanted to know the context in which the Romas are returning to Northern Ireland.

He said "The allegations the last time were that they were brought here by their own people, to be exploited, put in totally unsatisfactory housing conditions and probably made to work for less than the minimum wage.

"I am not so sure that we want to encourage that kind of thing, because it brings not only problems for the people who come back but problems for the society into which they come."



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SEE ALSO
Hard times for Roma who fled Belfast
09 Jul 09 |  Northern Ireland
Anti-racists 'fed NI Roma crisis'
16 Jul 09 |  Northern Ireland
Housing 'not favouring migrants'
07 Jul 09 |  UK Politics
Racism in Northern Ireland
17 Jun 09 |  Northern Ireland
Fleeing Romanians are rehoused
17 Jun 09 |  Northern Ireland

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