Ireland

Anti-immigrant sign in west Belfast investigated as hate incident – police

Police have appealed for information (PA)
Police have appealed for information (PA) Police have appealed for information (PA)

Police are investigating the erection of an anti-immigrant sign in west Belfast as a hate incident.

The sign, which appeared at Tildarg Avenue, Suffolk, warned against the “re-housing of illegal immigrants” in the area, and included an offensive term.

Graffiti reading Irish Lives Matter was also daubed on a wall at the Kennedy Centre.

It comes days after serious rioting in Dublin city centre, blamed by Irish police on “far-right elements”.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland said they are investigating the sign in the Suffolk area as a hate incident.

Inspector Andrew Matson said: “Our local neighbourhood policing team have been undertaking inquiries in the area and anyone who has any information in regard to the erection of the notices is asked to contact police on 101, quoting reference number 343 of 28/11/23.

“Alternatively, you can report online at https://www.psni.police.uk/report or in confidence through Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”

People Before Profit MLA Gerry Carroll said: “Nefarious and far-right elements are seeking to blame migrants, asylum seekers, and refugees for the problems caused by the rich and governments who protect and bolster corporate profits at all costs.

“There is a housing crisis but it is caused by governments who have not lifted a finger to build homes and refused to support measures proposed by People Before Profit to alleviate its worst elements.

“We are under no illusions that Irish Lives Matter is a racist slogan which is directly counterposed to movements against the oppression faced [by] black people and other ethnic minorities. Ironically, the far-right thugs who raise such slogans are nowhere to be found when campaigns emerge to address the hardships people face here.

“In recent days we have seen the chilling effect that the growth and intervention of far-right forces in the south can have on communities who are marginalised. We urgently need to call out and challenge those seeking to stoke hate, division, and racism.”

SDLP councillor Paul Doherty said he has asked Belfast City Council to remove the graffiti.

“The sign and graffiti that appeared in our community overnight in no way reflects the west Belfast that I live and work in every day,” he said.

“This is a welcoming area that is home to a diverse array of people and I regularly work with asylum-seeker families and others who are new to the area that are proud to make their home in west Belfast, among people who have given them a warm welcome and extended the hand of friendship.

“I would ask for anyone with any information about these incidents to come forward to police.

“It’s important that we stand with minority communities in this area and let them know that they are wanted and welcome, whatever the views of a small number of people who seek to cause trouble to serve their own ends.”