Northern Ireland

Community rallies around support worker after ‘sinister’ graffiti appears in south Belfast

Graffiti was daubed in the early hours of Sunday morning

Police are investigating graffiti that appeared in Finaghy on Sunday morning as a hate crime.
Police are investigating graffiti that appeared in Finaghy on Sunday morning as a hate crime.

A south Belfast support worker has said he continues to feel welcomed by most in his community despite “sinister” graffiti targeting him after he spoke out against anti-immigration posters.

Police are treating the graffiti at a residential property in the Sicily Park area of Finaghy as a hate crime, and have appealed for witnesses after it was reported on Sunday morning.

It is thought the words ‘Taura not welcome’ refers to resident and support worker Takura Makoni who had described how anti-migrant posters that appeared in Finaghy earlier this year had left him afraid to leave his home.

The posters, aimed at the housing executive, housing associations and landlords, referred to “undesirables and immigrants” being homed in the area. Police said they were investigating the posters as a hate crime.

Posters that appeared in Finaghy earlier this year criticised the housing of "immigrants" in the area. They were removed and are being investigated as a hate crime by police. PICTURE: ALAN LEWIS (Alan Lewis - Photopress Belfast/Photopress Belfast)

Mr Makoni, who works with the African and Caribbean Support Organisation, told the Irish News that the incident has impacted neighbours in the Finaghy area, as well as himself.

“For them, seeing something ugly like this written on the wall brings the mood of the area down, and unfortunately it makes people feel unnecessarily guilty and ashamed when they have nothing to do with it,” he said.

“The people of Finaghy have been nothing but supportive to me. Their support has been overwhelming. In fact, since speaking out about the posters this has been the first bit of negative feedback I’ve received.

“People all over the north, given the history of conflict here, know what it’s like to be the ‘other’, so they are willing to stand against this sort of intimidation.”

Mr Makoni said he is seeking to offer support to others across the north facing similar incidents.

“Because of my work, I’m able to access platforms to speak out, and stakeholders who can help, but most people facing this sort of thing don’t have that,” he said.

“It’s important that I make myself available to help them also.”

The graffiti has been condemned by South Belfast Alliance MLA Kate Nicholl, who said: “This is an appalling and sinister attack which was designed to threaten Takura for speaking out. Those behind it do not represent south Belfast which is a community of compassionate, kind and welcoming people.

“However, that does not diminish its impact on those people who are being targeted. It creates fear and it is completely unacceptable.

“I have reported this graffiti to the PSNI and I would urge anyone with any information to contact them urgently.

“It’s time for all parties to come together and condemn racism. It is always left to the same people to speak out and if we’re serious about tackling this we need to do so together.”

Ms Nicholl added: “Our next meeting of the assembly’s All-Party Group on Ethnic Minority Communities will be with key representatives to discuss how we can shut this down.”

PSNI Chief Inspector Mark Conway said it is thought the graffiti was daubed on the wall of the property sometime between 2am and 4am on Sunday morning.

“We are treating this as a hate-motivated crime and our enquiries are ongoing,” he said.

”The sentiment expressed is unacceptable and I am appealing to anyone with information that could assist enquiries to get on touch on 101 quoting reference 498 07/04/24.”