PSNI savaged over Roma attacks

Sectarian attacks didn’t do it and neither even did the murder of two soldiers and a policeman. It took a phenomenon they more readily identify with as not exceptional to Northern Ireland, the racist attacks on 100 Romanians in Belfast’s university area to attract top level media passion. “What I want to hear you say is, there were five days of racist attacks in Belfast, we failed to deal with it and I’m very sorry” That was Jon Snow on Channel 4 News last night. He gave ACC Alistair Finlay the PSNI’S biggest savaging I think I have ever heard in an interview. Smashing through the young Scotsman’s media trained response, Snow went through the timetable the PSNI’s “dilatory” response remorselessly. He kept repeating the point:

They( the Roma) were under persistent racist attack and you did absolutely nothing about it. We had a situation where we have five days of race attacks and no persistent policing. It sounds as if you learned nothing from the Stephen Lawrence inquiry.. or the MacPherson rules.. It sounds as if you are more tolerant of racist attacks than anywhere in mainland Britain..
In the nationals, The Times headline is the glass half empty version. “Culture of intolerance.”

According to a 2007 University of Ulster report, Northern Ireland has the highest proportion of bigoted people in the Western world.The statistics show that more than 90 per cent of racist attacks occur in loyalist areas. This is more complex, however, than their avowed identification with a “British” identity. Housing allocation is also a factor.

Whereas on the same facts and similar analysis the Independent’s glass is half full. “Northern Ireland has united to combat racism.”
.. though the law, and society in general, have combined to combat racist attacks – and may well have reduced them – the bottom line is that gangs of lawless youths can still seriously blight the lives of migrant families.

  • joeCanuck

    These racist attacks are totally disgusting.
    Kudos to the neighbours who have gone to the streets to protest them at great personal risk.

  • Thought Jon Snow’s questions were probably the first time a journalist has asked a decent question concerning PSNI failure re policing hate incidents.

  • Bemused

    Well done Snow – excellent piece of properly rigorous journalism. Local ‘norn iron’ media – hang your heads in shame.

  • riffin on romanians

    “Local ‘norn iron’ media – hang your heads in shame.”

    Many commentators, including blogosphere commentators, were notably quiet on this issue for the first few days and the threads, when they did get up and running, were full of racist comments.

  • joeCanuck

    full of racist comments.

    Yes indeed. I found that surprising and disgusting. How can people show such hatred of fellow human beings? The Romanians are today’s Jews, I guess, and allow some people to blame others for their own misfortunes.

  • 6countyprod

    The online headline in this morning’s Daily Mail was, ‘Want to see a GP? Gipsies come first as NHS tells doctors that travellers must be seen at once’

    Talk about stoking the fire. Is it any wonder there are racist comments galore?

    In this case both the NHS and the Daily mail are guilty of stirring up racism.

  • eranu

    i dont have access to NI TV news so im looking at this via the internet. but it sounds like another case of stand back and do nothing policing. the same sort of stand back and do nothing that resulted in a man being beaten to death in coleraine a while back. we would expect the police to take action to physically put down trouble makers in a community as soon as they hear of something happening. but it seems the policy we have is to hang back and see what happens. is this so that paramilitaries in whatever community have a chance to take the first action? if that is the case then the inadequate service from present policing policy is a result of what our politicians put in place.

    it would be interesting to know if the police have followed all their procedures regarding to responding to reports of community trouble. i wouldnt be surprised if they had followed roughly what they were supposed to do. ie nothing.

  • alibi

    Yup he really got stuck into the NI cop who I thought came across as very arrogant.

    Worse, he didn’t seem to take the issue or the grilling he was getting seriously. It seemed to be a big joke for him, his response was like that of a schoolkid thats been called up for something by a teacher in front of their peers and want to look smart.

  • IJP

    I didn’t see the interview, but I’ve little doubt criticism of both sides in this interview is legitimate.

    There is no dispute, in my mind, that the PSNI has become over-reliant on “community policing”. There does come a time when you arrest people!

    However, it is a little much for the “Mainland” media to identify this issue as specific to NI – after all, two BNP MEPs have just been elected in the north of England. It may well be that there are differences in attitude and behaviour in NI, but these need proper analysis, not arrogant questioning.