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Anger at "pittance" allocated to tackling racism

2 December, 2004

Sinn Féin South Belfast Assembly member Cllr Alex Maskey has described the additional £100,000 allocated to help fight hate crime as a 'pittance' that fails to recognise the scale of the difficulties faced by ethnic communities and the urgent need develop a large scale response.

Cllr Maskey said:

"While any money that can help in the fight against race hate crime must be welcomed. This money is a pittance compared to the level of funding that is needed to develop a meaningful long-term response.

"It is important that there are resources available to provide a practical response on the ground in communities where this is a major problem but this is only a drop in the ocean.

"Many people will draw a comparison between the figure of £3 or £4 million that is being bandied about as the carrot the British government are dangling in front of the UDA to give up gangsterism, who incidently are widely regarded as being behind much of the race hate crime in Belfast, with the figure of £100,000 additional resources to combat the impact of their campaign.

"Everyone has a role to play in challenging racism yet the failure to put in place proper resources will only undermine the efforts of those working on the ground to root out ingrained racist attitudes. Racism impacts on the daily lives of people from ethnic communities who, particularly here in Belfast, are a vital part of the rich social fabric of this city.

"The numbers of reported racial incidents in increases every year and yet these are only the tip of the iceberg. The Housing Executive deal with two cases a month on average and over 30 families and individuals have been forced to flee from their homes. The Equality Commission figures show racist attacks in Belfast are 30% higher than in England and Wales (16.4% per 1000 Belfast population compared to 12.6 for England and Wales)." ENDS

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