Northern Ireland news

Family escapes injury in racist Belfast arson attack

The arson attack happened at a home in Hyndford Street, east Belfast. Picture by Mal McCann 

AN arson attack on a family of five in east Belfast is being treated as a racist hate crime.

Flammable liquid was poured through the letter box of the front door of a house on Hyndford Street and set alight shortly after midnight yesterday.

A man, woman and three children managed to escape injury.

It is understood the family are from the Roma community.

Detective Sergeant Sam McCallum said a door and window were damaged. 

"This was a reckless act on a home where a family have the right to feel safe," he said. 

"We could have been dealing with something much more serious today. 

"Thankfully, no one was injured however the family has been left badly shaken. 

"Our enquiries into this incident are at an early stage, which we are treating as arson with intent to endanger life. It is also being (treated) as a racial hate crime.

"Hate crime, in all its forms, is totally unacceptable. It is the responsibility of each and every one of us to ensure that we live in a society where diversity is respected."

He appealed to anyone with information to contact officers.

 A family of five escaped injury in an arson attack in east Belfast. Picture by Mal McCann

Ulster Unionist councillor Jim Rodgers, who grew up nearby, said he was "disgusted" by the attack.

"I am really angry about this," he said. "Those involved should be totally and utterly ashamed."

Mr Rodgers said there had been racist incidents in the area in the past.

"There has been the odd incident before but the police are working very hard on the ground," he said.

Renowned Belfast musician Van Morrison grew up at 125 Hyndford Street.

He immortalised the road in his song 'On Hyndford Street'.

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