“What these sorts of claims do is detract from the good work that is being done…”

The purge of the Polish– and other ethnic minority communities- in some loyalist areas of Belfast has continued in the aftermath of the violence which overshadowed the Poland-Northern Ireland international match last month, with the Polish Association Northern Ireland claiming that more than forty individuals had fled their homes in the period since the game. The Housing Executive have confirmed that eight people presented themselves as homeless citing ‘trouble’ in the Village area since the match. However, UUP/ Conservative councillor, Bob Stoker, has condemned the ‘bandying about’ of such figures, suggesting “these sort of claims…detract from the good work that is being done to build better relations with people from eastern Europe.”

That’s right, Bob. Better to ignore the problem….

  • IRIA

    What a disgrace.

    In the aftermath of the RIRA shooting, where a Polish pizza deliverer was also shot, I was thinking Unionists would try to use that as a wedge issue hoping to attract catholic immigrants to their side.

  • Scaramoosh

    The story might have been a little more objective if you had also blogged this story;

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/loyalists-get-funds-to-oppose-the-racists-1666395.html

    And people accuse the loyalists of having jaundiced eyes….

  • Tochais Si­orai­

    That’s great. There wouldn’t be another course by any chance where they could begin to tackle their anti-irish racism?

  • Paul McMahon

    Call me an old cynic Scar but I suspect that the article banner ‘Loyalists get funds to oppose racists’ might well have more to do with their partaking in this scheme more than any concerns over rising racism.

    Having said that I would dearly love to be mistaken.

  • Two of the people who have fled the Village after an attack on their home, are Lithuanian friends of mine. If Bob Stoker wants more attention to be paid to the good work being done for community relations in the area he might start telling some of his neighbours plainly about the damage they are doing to themselves.
    Many of the those who had fled this mini Kristalnacht now feel that they can only be safe in catholic areas.

    It seems that what the bigots want, more than anything, is the isolation of protestants in their own grisly ghetto.

  • Mr Donnelly, for reasons perhaps best known to himself, has omitted the rest of the Bob Stoker quote:

    “While I would obviously condemn attacks on people wherever they’re from, I’m greatly concerned about people bandying figures like this about without any solid evidence.”

    How much that “condemnation” can be weighed against the call for “solid evidence” is debatable to say the least, but it should at least have been included in the post to provide casual readers who can’t be arsed with accessing the link a bit more of a balanced picture.

    Call me an old cynic Scar but I suspect that the article banner ‘Loyalists get funds to oppose racists’ might well have more to do with their partaking in this scheme more than any concerns over rising racism

    You’re an old cynic and you forgot to mention the all important fundi… word and you’re 100% correct.

  • picador

    To those who would accuse the blogger of one-sided spin I would say look at the title of the thread.

    Mr Stoker has a long and objectionable history of downplaying violence against Irish Catholics, Chinese people and eastern Europeans in the Donegall Road area.

  • Mark McGregor

    Malachi,

    Did you friends present themselves as homeless to the Housing Exec? Bob seems to be treating the claimed figures as suspect as they don’t match with those that requested help from the HE.

  • picador

    The figure of forty is that given by the Polish Association which (surprise, surprise) caters for Polish nationals. Slovenians, Lithuanians and Hungarians have been intimidated too; and there are Latvians and Romanians about the place as well. So the real number of victims of this mini-pogrom could actually be much higher.

    Still, Northern Ireland are top of their group so all’s well. When do Norn Iron go to Poland?

  • Rapunsel

    Well I was at a CRC conference last week. One of the people making a presentation was a senior manager from NIHE, Lorraine Campbell I think. She prefaced her inout by stating that 40 people had presented themselves as homeless following attacks etc on their homes subsequent to the match

  • Mark, my friends have presented themselves to the executive as homeless and have not yet been rehoused.

  • LURIG

    It is pretty shocking that many Eastern Europeans have suffered for the sins of the Polish hooligans BUT you could have predicted this especially in Loyalist South & East Belfast which traditionally have NOT been the most welcoming of places for foreign accents, dark skins and Papish Rebels. It was only a few years ago that the Chinese were taking the hits and the Apartment complex at Sandy Row with too many ‘Fenians’ in it. Not the friendliest of places at the best of times are Uncle Andy areas; the most nauseating part of all this is how Unionist politicians rush to defend the bigots and racists. Now some things NEVER change.

  • picador

    And the spur for this nonsense is the moronic rivalry of two Glaswegian football teams.

  • Chris Donnelly

    o’neill
    I’m afraid that’s a rather feeble effort to defend one of your UCUNF representatives.

    Oh, and I’m not too bothered about people who ‘can’t be arsed with accessing the link.’

  • Fair Deal

    New racist grafitti appeared on a wall in the Village last night the name ‘Real NF’ (twice) with a Swastika in between

  • kensei

    FD

    New racist grafitti appeared on a wall in the Village last night the name ‘Real NF’ (twice) with a Swastika in between

    IDGI. Isn’t WW2 and beating Hitler important to Unionism /loyalism? How do you get from there a Swastika?

  • Democratic

    “IDGI. Isn’t WW2 and beating Hitler important to Unionism /loyalism? How do you get from there a Swastika?”
    Very true Kensei – the vast majority of Unionists would completely agree I reckon – I would be interested in an explanation too of why such filth is sullying the gable ends……

  • loftholdingswood

    The moronic scrawling of some degenerate teenager should not detract from the actual work being done on the ground including meetings with Polish representatives and the PSNI to solve this problem. The PSNI themselves have confirmed that property attacks on Polish homes (or perceived Polish homes) were not carried out or approved by Paramilitaries. On the contrary; key Loyalist community leaders were at the forefront of keeping the peace during that Saturday and Sunday and have actively dissuaded individuals from bringing the area down further.

    Chris Donnelly should do a bit of research instead of using pejorative words and phrases such as “purge”. But then Chris Donnelly would not like a few facts to get in the way of his biased blogging.

  • Fair Deal

    loft

    I am afraid it isn’t just kids:
    “A stormy public meeting to discuss the tensions in the Village heard repeated calls from the audience for foreign residents to be removed. There were even suggestions of pickets to force them out.”
    http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/shocking-calls-to-picket-foreign-homes-as-46-are-forced-to-flee-14263010.html

  • loftholdingswood

    I’m not disputing that tensions are high Fair Deal and certainly some locals are of the opinion that they should not be there. But that is a minority opinion and not policy. Behind the scenes efforts have been made to assuage fears and Polish representatives have acknowledged that.

    My issue is not that it did not happen (as it clearly did) but that it was not a dedicated purging policy of a paramiltary organisation (as it was most certainly not).

  • Fair Deal

    loft

    On the para angle I’ve had a similar debate with CD as what I saw that night didn’t strike me as paramilitary driven. However, I failed to persuade him.

  • Neil

    Henry McDonald believes this to be the work of Loyalist paramilitaries:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2009/apr/10/northern-ireland-attacks-polish-migrants

    He usually has his shit fairly well in order.

  • loftholdingswood

    Agreed Fair Deal. But the green tinted glasses of Chris Donnelly only see what his expectations want him to see, irrespective of evidence to the contrary.

  • Chris Donnelly

    lofty

    Ah yes, that ol’ green-tinted bad boy at it again, with his ‘biased blogging.’

    Always the standard riposte of one with little of worth to add and with no ability to see beam’s in one’s own eye.

    Oh, and are your glasses orange-tinted, or red-white-and blue tinted?? Just asking…

  • loftholdingswood

    I think you will find that it is your response that is all so typical of you.

    I have tried to explain the facts. You just propagate the fiction. Readers can judge for themselves why you do that and for what reason.

    Back to the subject; The PSNI have had numerous meetings with community representatives and a clear understanding has been reached. The removal of any family (Polish, Lithuanian or otherwise) is wrong and (poaching from Gerry Adams here) counterproductive.

    I wear contact lenses not glasses. Think they are clear. And I can see.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Out here in Newtownabbey we have had similar problems where the events surrounding the tiny group of trouble makers who came over from Poland are being used as a pretext to engage in sectarian riots. Community workers have had some success.

    I just wish people like Bob Stoker would condemn these actions with a bit more vigour and stop trying to play down sectarian and racist attacks. I don’t know why he feels the need to qualify everything.

    Lofty, I appreciate that the loyalists are working on this, and I know that in this neck of the woods they have made a real contribution, but everybody needs to be clear that this sort of thing is not acceptable. As Malachi has said, in whose interests is it if immigrants come to perceive nationalist communities as places which are safe ?

  • Chris Donnelly

    Lofty
    Trust me, I’ve complete confidence in the ability of readers to judge your comments.

    “a clear understanding has been reached.”

    Leaving ‘that’ aside, this line really does stand out. Why -and with whom- did a clear understanding have to be reached?

  • loftholdingswood

    Comrade,

    I agree with you. I also feel Bob Stoker should be more vociferous.

    I understand that in Comber there was outstanding work done over six months ago in bringing locals and the immigrant population together in a series of events and a weekend of community building. This work was done by the workers of the Conflict Transformation initiative (CTI), a project that I feel has been sadly under reported and under appreciated. Other areas have also seen some success. More needs to be done.

    The “Thin end of the Wedge” course that has been mentioned took place a while ago and the trip to Poland was the final part of the course and that was completed last week. I understand that the course lasted some 13 weeks and so therefore took place before the sad events of two weeks ago after the football match.

    More initiatives and face to face meetings must be held for all people to understand each other and I am sure the vast majority of people in the Village area would welcome that.

  • loftholdingswood

    Chris,

    A clear understanding from people in the village area that attacks such as these are unacceptable.

    A clear understanding from the PSNI that these attacks were not coordinated by or sanctioned by a paramilitary organisation.

  • I’m afraid that’s a rather feeble effort to defend one of your UCUNF representatives.

    Mr Donnelly,

    You took this as a defence of Mr Stoker?

    How much that “condemnation” can be weighed against the call for “solid evidence” is debatable to say the least

    If it is one, then I agree 100% with you, it’s certainly a feeble one.

    It’s probably a difficult fact for you to comprehend, but as a non-apparachnik, I don’t feel the need to constantly defend one of “my” representatives, no matter what they may say nor get up to. “Community” leaders need to give leadership on this and Bob Stoker is included amongst that group.

  • Mack

    Polish blog covering earlier attacks

    Jan 2009 – http://www.mackozer.com/2009/01/20/yet-again-poles-attacked-in-ni/

    Aug 2006 – http://www.drakkart.com/eire2/2006/08/18/northern-ireland-poles-out-–-are-we-another-side-of-the-conflict/ (open in IE, colours messed up in Firefox, alternatively press ctl-A)..

  • Chris Donnelly

    “A stormy public meeting to discuss the tensions in the Village heard repeated calls from the audience for foreign residents to be removed. There were even suggestions of pickets to force them out.” (Belfast Tele story- FD link on previous page.)

    Lofty
    Clearly the understanding reached was not that ‘clear.’ You might care to note that the dreadfully green-tinted republican journalist, Henry McDonald, has suggested loyalist paramilitary involvement.

    o’neill
    I took the feeble effort bemoaning the absence of Stoker’s full quote as an attempt to deflect attention from the story, which it undoubtedly was.

    Oh, and for a non-apparachik, you fit the shoes quite well (hope you can comprehend that.)

  • kensei

    FD

    On the para angle I’ve had a similar debate with CD as what I saw that night didn’t strike me as paramilitary driven. However, I failed to persuade him.

  • Reader

    kensei: Personally I find it terrifying that people would just start calling for immigrants to be turfed out as suggested here. I honestly can’t see the same situation arising in, say, Ardoyne, but perhpas that is my own naivete.
    So there’s no ‘Brits out’ grafitti any more?