A racist arson attack in east Belfast has followed days after loyalist paramilitaries in nearby Newtownards dressed up as in full Klu Klux Klan uniform and posed for photographs outside an Islamic centre.
The arson attack happened at the home of a family of five in Hyndford Street on Wednesday night. Flammable liquid was poured through the letter box of the front door of the home of the Roma family and set alight shortly after midnight. A man, woman and three children escaped with their lives.
It is one of a number of racist incidents in the area. Last week, a group of loyalists dressed as Ku Klux Klan (KKK) members and posed outside an Islamic prayer house in nearby Newtownards.
The known UDA figures involved have previously portrayed themselves as Klansmen and worn costumes to appear as ISIS gunmen. The latest footage showed the group marching through the town in KKK regalia and brandishing crosses.
The PSNI said it was investigating it as a hate crime, but there has been criticism of the force’s failure to move against the brazen racism of the gang, which has been operating for years.
Meanwhile, the south east Antrim UDA has staged a full blown riot in the Antrim town of Larne, apparently in protest at the PSNI presence in the area.
Wheelie bins were set alight and used as a burning barricade blocking a street, as bricks, bottles and fireworks were thrown by a masked gang of up to 40 loyalists linked to the south east Antrim UDA.
A petrol bomb was also thrown but failed to ignite during the trouble on Wednesday night in the port town of Larne, County Antrim. There were no arrests.
Local PSNI chief Darrin Jones said he believe it was “orchestrated and carried out by a criminal gang going under the badge of the south east Antrim UDA”. He said it was linked to “proactive activity” by the PSNI. Earlier in the week, the PSNI said it had found three viable explosives during an alert in nearby Antrim town.
But the PSNI’s ‘hands off’ treatment of loyalist paramilitaries has been contrasted with ongoing harassment of republican political activists, particularly in Derry.
This week saw the PSNI continue to make heavy-handed arrests, and used an industrial saw to cut their way into the home of one youth who wasn’t present when they arrived.
Another youth was pulled out of his home under the cover of darkness, citing breach of bail.
Hitting out at the continuing attacks on Saoradh, local representative Paddy Gallagher said “It appears British Crown Force are determined to break this young man’s Republican spirit. The continuous harassment hasn’t worked and it won’t work.”