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26 August 2004 Edition

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Someone will be killed in racist attacks

Anti-racist campaigners have warned that it is only a matter of time before someone is killed, after two Portuguese families were forced to move out of their Portadown homes following an upsurge in racist attacks by unionist paramilitaries across the Six Counties over the past few weeks.

Portadown

Doors of three flats in Moeran Park, Portadown, were smashed in and windows broken by a gang of unionist paramilitaries at around 1.30am on Saturday 21 August.

Temporary accommodation was arranged for one couple and their two children, aged four and six, who were living in one of the apartments. The brother-in-law and two sisters, all aged in their 20s, were also moved from the second apartment.

Paulo Fialho, whose home was attacked, said the gang would not stop despite the screams of his wife and children.

"Maybe a few guys here don't like us, maybe it's because we are Portuguese. I am not angry, but a bit sad because we are in in 2004, we are a democracy."

Spokesperson for the Anti Racist Network, Davy Carlin, said: "People are being put out of their homes left, right and centre just because of the colour of their skin or the culture they believe in. I believe it's only a matter of time before someone is killed."

In another racist attack in Portadown, a South African man was left with serious facial and head injuries after he was attacked as he walked by a well-known loyalist bar in Thomas Street on Friday 13 August.

Several unionist paramilitaries verbally abused him before one of them struck him over the head with a bottle. The man was taken to hospital and treated for head and facial injuries.

A loyalist band parade had taken place in the area hours earlier.

Sinn Féin Assembly member for Upper Bann John O'Dowd has called for politicians and communities to stand up to those carrying out the racist attacks and urged the immediate release of footage from PSNI CCTV, which covers the Thomas Street area.

"For a number of years, we have had sectarian attacks on nationalists in this area and now racist attacks have been happening," he said. "The PSNI should release footage from their cameras to identify the loyalist culprits who carry out such attacks."

Carrickfergus, County Antrim

A woman from the Six Counties and her African husband have been forced to leave their Comber home after they were subjected to an organised and systematic torrent of racial abuse.

The intimidation began with verbal abuse, culminating in a physical attack on the man at the end of July.

They had already been forced to move out of Belfast after suffering at the hands of racists.

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