A Nigerian father whose newly allocated Housing Executive home in east Belfast was covered with banners reading “local houses for local people” has warned those responsible to “stop giving Belfast a bad image”.
Michael Abiona, 34, a support worker with the Cedar Foundation, said his “dreams of a new home in an area he wanted are now over”.
He said he does “not want my three-year-old son to experience this”.
In a direct message to the five people he met with banners at his new home at Glenluce Avenue, off the Garnerville Road on Tuesday, Mr Abiona – who has lived in east Belfast for four years – said: “These people should learn. They needed to find out the kind of person I am.
“If they are angry with the Housing Executive for people being on the waiting list, take it out on them and don’t protest on the front of my premises because I am local as well.
“They need to stop giving Belfast this bad image that Belfast is not welcoming people. They need to stop giving Northern Ireland such a bad name.”
Mr Abiona, who has shared custody of his son, yesterday had meetings with the Housing Executive.
“I made my intentions clear that I do not want to move into that premises [Glenluce Avenue].
“My son’s mum has made it clear she would not allow the boy to come and stay in that premises. That incident is terrifying and horrible and she does not want our son in that environment.
“I had been very excited and my son was excited at moving into the house where he could have his own things. So I have not only been displaced, my son has been displaced, and his mum – who is Irish or British from Northern Ireland – has also been displaced. This has also affected all the individuals associated with me.”
Last night, a spokesperson for the Housing Executive said: “Our staff met with the applicant today to discuss his housing options.
“We are committed to helping him regarding his future rehousing and will be working with him to resolve the current problem.”
The Alliance Party’s Naomi Long said she was “disgusted” by the posters “daubed with racist slogans”.
The East Belfast MP said: “Any right-thinking person will condemn this blatantly racist behaviour and I have no doubt the vast majority of residents in the area will be sickened by it.”