Homes of Indian and Pakistani families have been attacked in Banbridge overnight, police are reporting.
Windows were smashed at a house in Cline Road at around 11.50pm. The perpetrator also damaged the windscreen of the householder’s car. Three men were at home inside the property at the time.
Around an hour later a house in Underwood Terrace was also targeted. White paint was thrown over the front of the property and windows were smashed. A mother and her three young children who were at home at the time were uninjured but were left shocked by the ordeal.
A 33 year old man was arrested by responding officers close to the scene at Underwood Terrace. He is being questioned today on suspicion of racially motivated criminal damage at that location, as well as a previous attack on the same house on 9 March during which paint was also thrown.
Chief Inspector Jon Burrows said: “Hate crime of any description is despicable and completely unacceptable. We all have a responsibility to ensure that we live in a society where all people are respected, and we are working hard to investigate these crimes and support the victims”.
The local officers investigating both of last night’s attacks are working to establish a definitive link between the incidents and I would ask witnesses or anyone with information to please contact us on the non-emergency number 101, quoting reference number 33 of 18/5/18.”
Alternatively, information can also be provided to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 which is 100% anonymous and gives people the power to speak up and stop crime.
Speaking on the attack Carla Lockhart MLA said: “This is a disgraceful attack on these families and there is no place for it in our civilised society. Many people come to Northern Ireland to escape persecution or violence in their home lands and we offer them sanctuary and welcome them.
“Anyone who engages in this type of activity should realise it is wrong and that when you are caught you will face the full rigours of our justice system. I thank the police for their quick actions on this matter and making an arrest.
“Anyone with information please come forward to the police confidentially or via the 101 non emergency number.”
Condemning the attacks, UUP MLA Doug Beattie MC said: “I am disgusted to hear of two hate crimes carried out on Indian and Pakistani families within the Banbridge area last night, windows were smashed, paint thrown at the homes and a car damaged.
“This is unacceptable and I along with my Ulster Unionist Party colleague Cllr Glenn Barr condemn these deplorable attacks. There is no room for this behaviour in our society. Cllr Glenn Barr has reached out to the families and we will provide any help needed.
“I commend the PSNI on working fast to apprehend a 33-year-old male for carrying out such a hate fuelled crime.”
Sinn Féin Councillor Kevin Savage condemned both attacks, he said: “Damage was caused to cars and property. Those involved struck in the dead of night carrying out their cowardly attacks as families lay sleeping.
“In the immediate aftermath of the attacks the local community rallied around both families.
“Neighbours reported the crimes promptly and an arrest was quickly made.”
“The local community deserve high praise for this. They have demonstrated clearly that racism will simply not be tolerated in Banbridge.”
Meanwhile a local UPRG representative said: “An overnight attack on a house in the Cline Road area of Banbridge has been condemned by the local UPRG branch . Extensive damage on the house has left the occupants upset and confused as to why they were singled out. It could well be a racist attack and local residents are angry that this has occurred.
“The occupants are professional workers who cause no trouble whatsoever and a senior UPRG spokesman will be visiting them shortly to reassure them and offer support.
“We not only condemn this attack in the strongest possible terms but we would ask anyone with information to pass it on to the PSNI or to a UPRG spokesman.
“The Cline Road community are resolute in wanting attacks such as these to stop. The actions of the perpetrators are not in accord with the Cline Road ethos of community cohesion and strong family values.”