She described the meeting as an opportunity for Alliance to show a positive lead on the problem of racism on the day in which the Life and Times Survey showed that 25% of people in Northern Ireland admitted to having prejudiced views against those from ethnic minorities and as DPP figures revealed that racist incidents had risen by 50% in East Belfast over the past year.
The East Belfast MLA and Chair of the East Belfast sub group of Belfast DPP said, “I organised tonight’s event to allow people from an ethnic minority background living in East Belfast and Castlereagh to get to meet and know the Police locally, particularly in light of a number of recent racist incidents locally which have left people feeling vulnerable and afraid. The Police have engaged in a number of meetings on this issue and deserve credit for the efforts which they are making to develop relationships in this way.
“The issue of racism and racially motivated crime is regrettably a growing problem and an area where political leadership is required throughout the community. The annual figures for East Belfast DCU, due to be discussed at a DPP meeting tomorrow, showed a 50% rise in the number of racist crimes in East Belfast in the past year, which is very disturbing.
“It is vital that everyone in this society feels safe and this meeting will hopefully help those who attend to have increased confidence in the local police and feel comfortable reporting racist incidents and other crime to them.
“Despite the rise in the crime figures and the depressing results of the Life and Times Survey showing that 25% of people in Northern Ireland admit to having prejudice against ethnic minorities, Alliance is determined to give a positive lead in the community. Whether people have been in Northern Ireland a long time or are new-comers, they are very much part of our community and we all need to ensure that they feel welcomed, valued and safe. We are committed to creating an inclusive, diverse and a safe community in East Belfast and across Northern Ireland.”