Teens charged over racist attacks

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The Independent Online

Two teenagers have been charged in connection with the racist attacks on Romanian families in Belfast.

A 15-year-old and 16-year-old are each charged with provocative conduct, and the 15-year-old is also accused of intimidation of Romanian families.

The pair are due to appear before Belfast Magistrates' Court on Monday morning, said a police spokesman.

They were arrested on Friday during police operations in the south of the city in the wake of vandalism and attacks on the homes of Romanian migrants which forced 22 terrified families - 115 people including 49 children - to seek refuge in a church hall on Wednesday night.

The Romanians were later given temporary accommodation in student flats in the University area of the city.

The racist attacks provoked revulsion across Northern Ireland and on Saturday, several hundred people attended an anti-racism rally in the centre of Belfast.

They were told by a local politician the families forced to flee their Belfast homes are still so terrified that they want to back go home to Romania.

Most are already preparing to get out of Northern Ireland, South Belfast MLA Anna Lo told the rally.

Ms Lo said the migrants who had arrived a year ago looking for a better life are too scared to stay.

"The majority are making preparations to go back to Romania," she said. "I think this is a very sad picture for Northern Ireland, that we can't protect people who have come seeking a better life.