Racist attacks in South Belfast

We reprint a collection of leaflet, articles, press releases and letters that were produced during the campaign to stop racist attacks on Roma families on the Lisburn Road. Socialist Party members who live in the area played a key role in organising local residents to oppose racism and fight for jobs and homes.

Organiser of residents anti-racist protest receives death threat

One of the residents who organised a protest on Monday on the Lisburn Rd area of Belfast in defence of Romanian families has received a death threat.
 
The PSNI communicated the threat to Paddy Meehan who came to the assistance of Romanian families after racist attacks in South Belfast.
 
The message reads “Police are in receipt of anonymous information which states that persons unknown intend to firebomb the home of Patrick Meehan. This is believed to be connected to your recent involvement in protests about Romanian nationals.”
 
Mr Meehan issued a statement tonight “This threat reveals the type of people who have been carrying out the racist attacks. They are a small hardcore group of fascists who are scapegoating immigrant workers to build a base of support. Hitlers Nazis were at one point a tiny minority who initially targetted ethnic minoroties. Their aim is to take away all democratic rights. It is important that local communities are mobilised to defeat these groups now while they are small and that is exactly what I and other local residents are now determined to do.”

Socialist Party replies to attacks in the Irish News over anti-racist campaign

 
Dear Editor,
Fionnuala O’Connor and Newton Emerson (The Irish News, 18th June 2009) would be better off checking their facts before attacking people for standing up to racist attacks. Fionnuala O’Connor obviously did not care to read the joint Socialist Party / Socialist Youth leaflet distributed to protestors on the Lisburn Rd on Monday 15th June. If she had, she would have seen that nowhere on the leaflet did it state the protest was a ‘Socialist Party NI demonstration’. The leaflet was a message of support to local residents who had turned out to take a stand against racists thugs.

Newton Emerson should be ashamed of himself for accusing members of the Socialist Party of being involved in a ‘sinister’ conspiracy for political gain. If it was not for the action of several members of the Socialist Party living on the Lisburn Rd, who played an excellent role in organising local residents to provide defence of the Romanian families, the lives of babies and innocent people would have been put in jeopardy. No attacks occurred on these families after defence was organised by local residents, a minority of whom were Socialist Party members. 

It is regretful that some sections of the media have attempted to discredit local residents and the Socialist Party for standing up to thugs who have carried out vicious assaults and attacks, putting peoples lives in danger.

The Socialist Party will not be distracted however by cynical journalists who stand on the sidelines and choose to attack anti-racists and anti-fascists from a comfortable distance while families are being attacked by fascist groups. The Socialist Party believes it is necessary to combat those who are attempting to build fascist organisations in Northern Ireland and who scapegoat migrant workers for the economic and social problems working class people face. Like Hitler in the 1930’s, these thugs are attempting to whip up racism against a vulnerable minority in order to promote their agenda which is to remove all democratic rights. The key to defeating this small minority of thugs is to mobilise local communities which is what the Socialist Party is currently engaged in.

 Yours truly,
Gary Mulcahy,
Socialist Party


Text of leaflet distributed at protest Monday 15th June, Lisburn Rd, Belfast

Socialist Party / Socialist Youth

UNITE AGAINST RACIST ATTACKS

The Socialist Party and Socialist Youth fully support local residents in opposing racist attacks in this area.

These cowardly attacks are being organised and carried out by members of far right racist and fascist groups. These groups are deliberately targeting migrant workers and their families. They attempt to justify their actions by blaming members of ethic minority communities for social and economic problems – just as Hitler did with the Jews.

But problems such as unemployment and poor housing are caused by the economic system, not by immigrants. The racist scapegoating of migrants must be stopped. Working class people instead need to stand together to fight for jobs, decent wages and conditions and proper housing for all.


How can we stop racist attacks
The police response to these latest attacks has been half-hearted at best. Response times have been too long to be effective and there has been no follow up action to try to identify and arrest those responsible. The result is that families have had to move out. United community action can isolate the small groups responsible and can force them to call a halt to the attacks.

Tonight’s protest is an excellent first step. An anti racist network now needs to be set up in the area so that members of the local community can be mobilised within minutes every time an attack takes place. This can be done through a mobile phone/telephone tree arrangement. With the community mobilised in this way it will be easy to positively identify those involved in carrying out the attacks.

The police should be given this information and then pressure should be applied to make sure these people are prosecuted for their racist hate crimes.


Don’t let a few racist thugs intimidate a community – United community action can defeat them.


  Questions raised over ‘misreporting’ of anti-racist protest

 

16 June 2009

Residents who organised an anti-racist protest on the Lisburn Rd in Belfast last night have criticised some reports which claimed that the protest was abandoned due to a small group of youths hurling bricks and bottles at the protestors.

Paddy Meehan, a spokesperson for the residents stated “We are disappointed that a reporter for a major broadcaster misreported last nights events, claiming that we abandoned our protest because of the attacks. This is completely untrue. As has been independently verified by footage on UTV, we succeeded in chasing them and forced them to disperse. In fact the protest grew larger after the racist thugs threw bottles at us. The protest then continued for forty minutes and a rota of residents was organised to defend the families overnight. As a result of this action on the ground there have been no attacks for the past two nights.”

Mr. Meehan added that “attempts from some quarters to blame residents for provoking the racists into attacking the protest by chanting anti-racist slogans were letting the racists off the hook. The media needs to focus on the fact that a small number of racist thugs are still intent on attacking homes and putting the lives of young children in danger.”


 Racist attacks on Roma families in Belfast for the past five nights

15th June 2009


Residents call protest against racist attacks on Lisburn Rd, Belfast

8pm Monday 15th June outside Mace shop Lisburn Rd

Residents of Belgravia Avenue and Wellesley Avenue have called on the people of South Belfast to protest outside the Mace shop on the Lisburn Rd tomorrow evening at 8pm against continuous racist attacks against Roma families.

Since Wednesday evening gangs have attacked the homes of Roma families every evening, smashing windows and shouting racist abuse.

The attackers have shouted Combat 18 (a fascist group) slogans to neighbours of the Roma families after the assaults. A number of people have been injured and children of the family are severely traumatised as a result.

Police have been called to the scenes of these attacks but as yet there has been no arrests.

One family has been forced to leave their home on Belgravia Avenue after been attacked for the past four nights. During an attack on a house on Wellesley Avenue this evening, a note from the racist gang dropped through the letterbox is thought to contain text from Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf.

Local residents are calling on the people of South Belfast to join a protest tomorrow evening in solidarity with Roma families who are under attack from racist thugs to show they do not represent the community and that racist attacks will not be tolerated.

A special call has been made for trade unions and political parties to publicly condemn the attacks and to support the protest.


Questions need to be answered by police

Accusations of ‘police inaction’ and ‘feeding misinformation’ to media

Local residents organising a protest against racist attacks have criticised the police for lack of action in dealing with serious racist attacks carried out by small groups of racists in the Lisburn Rd area.

One of the organisers of the protest, Paddy Meehan has also criticised the police for misinforming the media that the families under attack were Polish, when in fact they are Romanian. Mr. Meehan explained “The police’s reports to the media that the families under attack are Polish is particularly dangerous after recent tensions in the area after the clashes at the recent Northern Ireland Poland football match.”


Log of events


Wednesday 10th June

About 5pm: Crowd of 15 attacked member of Romanian family on Wellesely Avenue.

At 11pm: Police called after attack on house on 14 Belgravia Ave – Police arrive at 12.30am


Thursday 11th June

About 10pm: Assault on member of family at 113 Wellesely Avenue by a gang estimated 15 people, hit with large plank of wood – broken nose and injuries to head and back – child also hit – Police were phoned but when they arrived they did not chase after gang when they fled.


Friday 12th June

About 9.30pm – Attack on house at 14 Belgravia Ave

About 12am: Group of 6 or 7 attack house at 14 Belgravia Ave with stones. While running away from scene they shouted “Up Combat 18 – Out with Pakis” and retreated behind billboards at the top of Ulsterville Ave. Police were informed through 999 emergency number of their whereabouts. 15 minutes later gang returned and attempted to kick front door in. 10 minutes after second attack police arrived.


Saturday 13th June

About 5.30pm – Gang of seven racists threw stones at family outside 14 Belgravia Ave. Police phoned immediately and arrive ten minutes later. Another attack on 14 Belgravia Avenue between 1am and 2am. Police contacted and arrived. Family leave house on Belgravia Ave.

About 1am – Attack on houses at 113 Wellesley Ave and 78 Wellington Park – Police phoned at 1am – Police said they were busy. Residents told police they were worried because there was a two day old baby as well as other children in the house. Police arrive at roughly 1.30pm.


Monday 15th June

Police inform media that families are Polish, not Romanian.

 

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