Northern Ireland news

Students blamed for Holylands racist attack on Syrian refugees

An attack on a home in Rugby Avenue area of the university area.

A FAMILY of Syrian refugees relocated from the war zone to Northern Ireland through the Vulnerable Persons Relocation scheme are being subjected to a campaign of racial harassment in south Belfast.

Police said they are investigating the latest incident against the family who were housed on Rugby Avenue in Holylands after fleeing their war-torn homeland.

A residents' spokeswoman has blamed students for the series of attacks.

It was reported that sauce had been thrown at the wall of a property which police say they are treating as a "hate crime".

Neighbours said the family have been under sustained harassment from students in the area since they moved in when the mother was pregnant with her third child.

Anne McMurray who lives opposite the family said they discovered the damage as they were taking their older children to primary school in the morning.

"They're very distressed," she said.

"They don't speak much English at all and I had to go over to phone the police for them. It's not the first time it's happened.

"They're always throwing things at their windows - food, gravy chips, you name it - and bottles into their garden. It's very distressing watching it going on. They were brought over here as Syrian refugees.

"It is 100 per cent students doing it. It's absolutely horrible. These students they don't care."

Mrs McMurray said her son-in-law, who is Nigerian, and her mixed-race grandchildren, have been called "monkeys" and bananas have been thrown when they come to visit.

Brid Ruddy chair of College Park Avenue Residents' Association said the level of "racist and sexist abuse" from students is the "worst yet".


"Thing are really bad this year. The students just seem to think they can say anything and do anything," she said.

"They know nothing is going to happen. There is no enforcement whatsoever. There are no consequences."

Ulster University insisted it "does not tolerate anti-social behaviour and has robust disciplinary processes in place to deal with any incidences, as and when they are reported to us by the council or the PSNI".

"New and returning students are presented with a comprehensive programme of workshops and information sessions to ensure that that all students are fully aware of their responsibilities and the risks of engaging in anti-social behaviour," a spokeswoman said.

"We are proud of our role in the community and the positive contribution our talented students make to society but we will not tolerate any level of anti-social behaviour by a minority who bring their institution into disrepute.

"By failing to act responsibly, they are placing their future career, safety and the safety and wellbeing of others at risk."

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