Politicians condemn 'disgusting' anti-migrant signs erected in south Belfast

Politicians condemn 'disgusting' anti-migrant signs erected in south Belfast

LOCAL politicians have hit out at anti-migrant signs erected in south Belfast, with police saying they are treating the matter as a hate incident.

The signs, which appeared in the Belvoir estate in recent days, claimed the area would 'no longer accept the re-housing of illegal immigrants'.

Councillors and MLAs from south Belfast said the sentiments were not representative of local people in the area.

'Chill factor'

Kate Nicholl, Alliance MLA for Belfast South, said those behind the signs were pitting vulnerable people against each other.

"I am shocked by the erection of these signs and posters," she said.

"They are designed only to divide communities and stir up fear.

"They create a chill factor for those living in the area and badly damage community relations.

"It is also important we don't fall for the right-wing media narrative of pitting vulnerable people against one another.

"I work with refugees every single day and what they have endured is incomprehensible to most of us.

"They are people — just like anyone else — who have value and who matter.

"Seeking a safe and peaceful life is not a crime, it is a human right. No human being is illegal.

"Take the time to get to know your neighbours, check in on those who may look or sound different to you.

"They may be fearful and we need to reassure them they are welcome and valued in Northern Ireland."

Fellow Alliance MLA Paula Bradshaw said anger over housing shortages was being misdirected.

"The posters and those who put them up do not represent South Belfast, which is a kind, compassionate, and welcoming constituency," she said.

"There are real issues in terms of housing shortages, but that is not the fault of vulnerable people.

"We urgently need to get back into a functioning Executive and work together to ramp up the building of new homes to ensure all have equal access to housing in Northern Ireland."

'No place for racism'

The posters were directed at private landlords and the Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE).

Sinn Féin's Geraldine McAteer, a councillor for Balmoral in south Belfast, branded the signs 'disgusting' as she urged people to report similar incidents to the NIHE and PSNI.

"There is NO place for racism in south Belfast," she posted on Twitter.

"Posters aimed at keeping refugees from social & private housing in Belvoir estate are disgusting, disgraceful, racist & represent a hate crime."

Meanwhile, fellow Balmoral councillor Donál Lyons of the SDLP addressed a social media post that criticised him for removing the posters.

"Happy to confirm that this is me referenced in the post below," he posted on Twitter on Tuesday evening.

"Had a number of Belvoir residents contact me this morning disgusted that these anonymous and sinister posters had been put up under cover of darkness and asking they be removed.

"Glad to oblige. Racism is a poison."

In a statement this evening, the PSNI said: "The matter is being treated by police as a hate incident.

"Our local Neighbourhood Policing Team have been undertaking enquiries in the area and anyone who has any information in regard to the erection of the notices is asked to contact police on 101, quoting reference number 402 of 31/10/23."