Northern Ireland: Unite against racist attacks!

Anti-racist campaigner receives death threats

Families forced to flee homes

In the past week, the Socialist Party (CWI in Northern Ireland) has been central to protests organised in opposition to a spate of racist attacks on Romanian families living in Belfast. Over 20 families were forced from their homes in vicious attacks in which stones and planks of wood were used.

Worryingly, the attackers shouted Combat 18 (a fascist group) slogans to neighbours of the Roma families after the assaults. During an attack on one home, a note from the racist gang dropped through the letterbox is thought to contain text from Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf. A number of people have been injured and families with children as young as 5 days old have been severely traumatised by the attacks.

On Monday night, a protest organised at short notice in the area drew well over a hundred local residents, demanding an end to the attacks and making it clear that these racist thugs did not represent the views of the local community. This protest was attacked by racist youths, who threw stones and bottles at those gathered, before they were chased off by residents. Below we publish the leaflet distributed by members of the Socialist Party (CWI in Ireland) and Socialist Youth on the demonstration.

Since these events, a local resident and Socialist Party member involved in organising against the attacks, received a death threat, obviously linked to his role in encouraging the community to stand up to the racists.

After being temporarily housed in a local church, reports are that the victims of these attacks are now seeking to return to Romania, having been driven out of Northern Ireland by a small group of anti-democratic thugs. The Socialist Party believes that trade unions, young people and communities must organise to send a clear message to these racists and fascists, that they are not welcome on the streets of Belfast.

houses attacked

Socialist Party / Socialist Youth leaflet

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.

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."

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June 2009