Romanian Gypsies are celebrated in Belfast this weekend. After setting the scene for violent attacks against the Romanian Gypsy families, North Ireland pays its moral dues by organising Welcome, an event meant to support the foreign ethnic minority.
Several local artists will perform at Oh Yeah Music Centre, to show solidarity with the Romanian Gypsy families who have been subject of violent attacks last month in South Belfast. The centre's officer for development, Charlotte Dryden, told Belfast Media the locals wanted to show their disgust for what happened and the two fingers to the racists.
"We decided to call the show Welcome because we want to show these people are welcome here. People in Northern Ireland have had enough of sectarianism and we are certainly not going to turn it into racism", Dryden said. She warmly welcomes the local migrants community to take enjoy the musical event.
According to Belfast Media, the local community showed immense interest in making the event happen. There were several recent Love Music, Hate Racism events throughout England, showing discontent with the British National Party (BNP) political ascension.
Several houses where Romanian Gypsy families lived were attacked in South Belfast in June, by a neo-Nazi group called Combat 18. The Gypsies were forced to seek refuge in a nearby church, fro where they were taken by the local authorities and temporarily placed in a leisure centre. It was there that the Romanian and North-Irish authorities met and looked for solutions. Around 100 Gypsies expressed their wish to be repatriated. This was not a single incident: the neo-Nazi groups also attacked a Polish community several months ago. The non-Irish represent about 1% of the North-Irish population.