Almost 100 Romanian Gypsies living in Belfast spent last night in a church, sheltered from the attacks of a neo-Nazi group, BBC informs. 20 Romanian Roma families fled their homes in Lisburn Road and surroundings after being subject to racist attacks for one week. Member of Alliance Party Anna Lo said the families were terrified.
The last couple of nights, local residents decided to put an end to the ordeal the migrants were subject to. They took turns for shift, making sure the families were protected. Paddy Meehan, a local, told BBC that a group of people, self-entitled Combat 18, verbally abused the Romanian minority, broke their windows, smashed their doors and racked a car. They also left a letter behind, containing passages from Hitler's Mein Kampf. He said the families were scared and felt isolated, therefore the local community decided to protect them.
Belfast Health and Social Care Trust staff Bernie Kelly said the families were traumatised by the events. The organisation is working with the local authorities to solve the problem. BBC correspondent from Northern Ireland Mark Simpson denied the suspicions according to which a parliamentary group could be behind the racist attacks.
One Romanian Roma woman said she was afraid for her life and for her family and was thinking of returning to Romania. 115 people got together in the same house, but local police considered they would be much safer in the church, where they transporters the minority.
Anna Lo, Alliance Party, said the number against the migrants' houses increased within the last months. The neo-Nazi group broke their windows with bricks. One of the Roma women displayed a bruised shoulder, but the Police did not record any physical violence.
Racial Harassment Adviser for the Northern Ireland Council for Ethnic Minorities Jolena Flett said the Romanian minority was threatened and three properties have been attacked in the same day. Priest of the host church, Malcom Morgan, said the Romanian Romas were welcomed to stay for as long as they needed.
Belfast Police spokesperson said that Police was working with the local authorities to move the Romanians into a different region. The police is also examining CCTV recordings.
The local residents organised an anti-racist protest on Monday evening. One of the protesters was injured by the neo-Nazi group. This convinced the Romanian Gypsy minority to decide to leave their homes in Lisburn Road.