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March 4, 2021

Teens in court over Belfast attacks, citizens express solidarity with Romanian Romas’

Two boys, aged 15 and 16, charged in connection with the intimidation of Romanians in Belfast were set to appear before the city’s magistrates court yesterday, BBC News reported. Both have been charged with provocative behaviour. The 15-year-old is also charged with intimidation. They were arrested in the wake of vandalism and attacks on the homes of the over 115 Romanian migrants of Roma origin, attacks that triggered harsh condemnation and criticism from several British officials and the Romanian Foreign Affairs Ministry.

Meanwhile, an inter-denominational service in support of the families was held in south Belfast on Sunday night.

Organisers said the service at Fitzroy Presbyterian Church would give people the opportunity to “express solidarity with the stranger in our midst as well as sorrow and shame at the racist attacks that have taken place on our community”. On Saturday, a crowd of about 200 people attended an anti-racism rally at Belfast City Hall.

The attacks forced the Romanian people to leave their homes and seek refuge in a church hall. A number of Romanian families had to leave their homes last week and were housed in temporary accommodation. A Romanian family was also attacked in east Belfast on Wednesday when a window was smashed in their home on the Upper Newtownards Road. Meanwhile, new threats were reported against Romanian Romas. Threatening messages were published on the Internet by Combat 18, the same extremist group that attacked Romanians in Belfast last week, according to ‘The Guardian.’

Combat 18’s message has been heavily distributed in all Northern Ireland, featuring hatred and threats: “Romanian gypsies beware / Loyalist C18 are coming to beat you like a baiting bear / Stay out of South Belfast and stay out of sight / And then you will be alright / Get the boat and don’t come back / There is no black in the Union Jack / Loyalist C18 ‘whatever it takes’.”

Although locals condemn the attacks, they are not in favour of the immigrants. “It was terrible putting wee children in danger, but they [the Romanians] are living on top of each other. They’re begging outside shops and banks. They send their kids out to sell roses outside bars at night. They shouldn’t be allowed to use their kids like that. They shouldn’t even be allowed into the country because they don’t want to work,” a middle-aged woman who wanted to keep her anonymity told The Guardian.

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