I have only seen kindness in east Belfast, says Pole

Judyta Szacillo from Poland
Judyta Szacillo from Poland

A Polish woman who has lived close to the scene of a horrific racist attack for years has said that said that she has only ever encountered kindness from local people.

The attack on Monday night saw the eastern European trio struck with golf clubs by a gang of up to 15 individuals in a loyalist residential neighbourhood in east Belfast.

Judyta Szacillo, 33, who has been living in the Province for the last nine years, and in that area for three years, said she believed that most people in the area would never support such actions.

Ms Szacillo is currently in the process of moving, and says she aims to take up residence in to a new part of Belfast, partly for reasons of safety, given the upsurge in racist attacks.

She said she was worried by “more and more stories” emerging about incidents across the city, however she added: “I would like to stress that I’ve never experienced anything but kindness from all the neighbours that I’ve met throughout all the time I’ve lived here.

“I really don’t think the majority condone it in any way, or support it.”

Most people, she said, are “decent human beings,” adding: “I think it’s an important message to be sent, because if you start accusing everyone around you, you will have people getting more nervous about it and touchy.”

In recent weeks the police have said that the UVF are involved in racist attacks in the area and said they seemed close to “ethnic cleansing”.

John Kyle, a local councillor with the UVF-linked Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) said he believed it was now time to draw up a blueprint for how to overcome the tensions.

Dr Kyle, representing the Pottinger area, said that there is a “rather fraught atmosphere” in east Belfast at present.

He added: “I think there are tensions within the community, and they sometimes result in aggression.

“I think as a community we need to be talking to each other and trying to work together to bring some sort of calm.

“I think on a practical level in east Belfast we need to develop a community plan for how to deal with tensions between ethnic minorities and local indigenous residents.”

He suggesting getting community leaders together with the Northern Ireland Council for Ethnic Minorities.

East Belfast councillor Maire Hendron of the Alliance Party, branded the incident “shocking”, and said: “I hope they will be able to make swift recoveries from the injuries they sustained. No one deserves to be a victim of such an attack.”