30/06/2003

South Belfast racist attacks continue

The issue of racism in Northern Ireland, and particularly in south Belfast, has again been thrust into the limelight with a pipe-bomb attack on a house in the Donegall Avenue area.

Police are currently investigating if the attack was racially motivated, but many community figures have already hit out at the attackers.

South Belfast Sinn Fein councillor and former Lord Mayor Alex Maskey said: "Those who carried out this pipe-bomb attack were intent on causing serious harm or possibly worse. Such attacks are completely reprehensible and have no place in our society."

This latest incident follows a string of recent attacks on ethnic minorities across south Belfast, which include a Chinese family subjected to a "prolonged and vicious" ordeal during a robbery at their family home in Finaghy earlier in June.

Two masked men entered the house through the window of a bedroom, where a bedridden elderly woman slept. They searched rooms and demanded money before being disturbed by the arrival, a short time later, of a female member of the family and her three young children.

The younger woman was physically assaulted before being put in the bedroom with the elderly woman and her children. A knife was held to her throat during the ordeal.

Highlighting that south Belfast has a greater number of such attacks than anywhere else in Northern Ireland, Cllr. Maskey named the area "the racist capital of the north."

SDLP representative for the area Alasdair McDonnel also condemned the latest incident and appealed for "those with some influence within loyalism" to ensure that the attacks would stop.

In addition to assaults, pipe-bombs and robberies, ethnic minorities have also received leaflets from fascist groups through their doors, implying a disturbing level of coordination.

(GB)

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