ALLIANCE Assembly member Sean Neeson has said that the arrest of a man in South Belfast in connection to racist attacks in the area shows the need for the early introduction of Hate Crimes legislation.
Mr Neeson said that over the summer the Government committed itself to the introduction of new Hate Crimes legislation, which Mr Neeson lobbied for during his time as Alliance leader, in this Parliamentary term.
Mr Neeson stated: “The murder of Simon Tang in my own constituency in 1996 has yet to be resolved, but despite the fact that racial attacks have been going on for years now, there have been very few convictions for crimes motivated by racial hatred.
“These attacks are doing real damage to the reputation of Northern Ireland as a welcoming place. Clearly racist attacks are a longstanding problem, although there has been little justice for victims from ethnic minorities. There must be a greater willingness from the authorities and Government to tackle racist crime seriously.
“If we are to have a genuinely pluralist society in Northern Ireland, it is crucial that the police have not only the confidence of the two main traditions, but also those from our ethnic minorities.
“Hate Crimes legislation, while not a total solution to racist attacks, would allow for stiffer sentences for those found guilty of racist crimes and send out a signal that racism is unacceptable in our society.”