Racist graffiti on two empty properties in south Belfast could deter people from moving into the area, a Belfast councillor has said.
The words ‘Locals Only’ appeared on the vacant Housing Executive properties in Maryville Street and Walnut Street this week, prompting condemnation from Alliance MLA Anna Lo and party colleague Cathy Curran.
A spokeswoman from the Housing Executive confirmed the graffiti has since been removed.
Ms Curran said the concern is that such “intimidation” will put people off the area.
“This is a despicable attack on our community and has no place in our society,” said Ms Curran. “This type of intimidation cannot be allowed to continue.
“This property is currently vacant and had the potential to house a local family, but this blatant attempt at intimidation will have unfortunately left many concerned at moving into the area.”
Ms Lo, the UK’s only Chinese parliamentarian, said her own experience of racism makes her acutely aware of its effects.
“There is absolutely no justification for racist graffiti in our society,” she said. “Having been a victim of racist abuse, I know the impact that this sort of behaviour can have on people. No one should have to suffer such abuse.
“Racism is sadly still a problem here. It is important that the First and deputy First Ministers send out a strong message that racism will not be tolerated by publishing a robust racial equality strategy that actually delivers a positive change on the ground.
“Immigration is a good thing for our country, with many immigrants playing a key role in sectors such as the health service. I know the vast majority of the population have welcomed those from different backgrounds.
“It is only a small minority who continue with this vile abuse.
“If anybody has information about any racist abuse or attack, then I would urge them to contact the Police.”
In August last year racist graffiti was painted on the front of a house in east Belfast during an incident in which the front door and a window pane were also broken.