A Nigerian man hounded from his new home after it was covered in ‘Locals only’ banners has suffered more racial abuse. Michael Abiona (34) abandoned plans to move into a bungalow in East Belfast after finding protestors outside and banners that read ‘Local houses for local people’.
Now the charity worker has been subjected to racist abuse at a second Housing Executive property in the area. He was showing a Nigerian friend his new home on Holywood Road when a woman got out of a taxi and repeatedly shouted “black bastard” and told them to leave the area.
Mr Abiona said “The way things are, you are watching your back whenever you’re walking the street. You’re scared that people will come and attack you. But I’m not going to allow it affect me.”
Victim of locals-only protest rehoused but suffers yet more racist abuse (Brendan Hughes, Irish News) (not currently available online)
When asked why no one wanted to appear on camera she said:
“Because now we’re being called racists which we’re horrified. We’re actually embarrassed about it. We’re certainly not racists, certainly not.”
“From his account, it was certainly a peaceful protest and there was no threat issued to him. There isn’t any indication that they sought to intimidate him.
I’m not sure that this can be described as racism in terms of what the intention of the local people was.
You might have had exactly the same reaction if it was somebody from up-country that was moving into an area where local people aren’t able to get houses in the locality that they’ve been brought up in.” NI First Minister Peter Robinson.
A new Irish language centre is to open later in east Belfast to cope with an increasing number of learners.
The Turas [Journey] centre, based in the Skainos building (above) on the Newtownards Road, houses a classroom, offices and a library/social area. Development officer Linda Ervine said a growing interest in the language had led to the need to expand.
Ms Ervine said a “taster” Irish class held three years ago had revealed a surprising level of interest in the language.”We started a regular class two years ago which was meant to last for 15 weeks,” she said.
“Now, around 90% of our learners are Protestants. “People contact me on a weekly, even daily basis. All we have done is to open the door.”
Picking up the Roll of Honour Aisling Award for her commitment to Irish language was Linda Ervine, Irish language development officer for East Belfast where she runs SEVEN Irish classes a week in the Turas project at East Belfast Mission.
Linda, is a sister-in-law of the late PUP leader David Ervine, who himself learned Irish while in prison.
Mrs Ervine has previously said,
“What the language does is, it allows people to explore the idea of Irishness in a non-threatening way. We are Irish. I feel I’m Irish.”
She learned from the 1911 census that her husband’s relatives had lived in East Belfast and spoke both Irish and English. Yet their signatures were listed on the Ulster Covenant. Linda deduced that their knowledge of Irish wasn’t linked to their politics.