Nigerian family ‘too scared’ to move into Belfast home after protest

Residents want to know how house was allocated when ‘locals’ remain on waiting list

A Nigerian family has decided not to move into social housing allocated to them by the Housing Executive following a protest.

A Nigerian family has decided not to move into social housing allocated to them by the Housing Executive following a protest.

Wed, Jun 18, 2014, 11:38

A disabled Nigerian living in Belfast since 2010 will not be moving into social housing allocated to him following a protest at the door of what should have been his new home.

Michael Abiona (34), a board member of the Northern Ireland Council for Ethnic Minorities (Nicem), said he was confronted yesterday morning by three or four women and a man at the door of the house on Glenluce Drive in the east of the city which had been adorned with banners .

These claimed “Local houses for local people” and “We have rights too, we need homes too.”

The protestors demanded to know how he was allocated a home by the Housing Executive when others had been on the public sector waiting list, in some cases for years.

“I’m local as well,” he said. “I’ve been in Belfast for four years now. It’s shameful, really awful. It’s discrimination.”

He said he will not be moving in now because of fears for the safety of his young son and because the boy’s mother is scared.

He said he applied for the house in the same way others do.

“We were really looking forward to moving into the place and settling down. Why would the protest? Did they know me before? No.”

East Belfast MP Naomi Long said: “This sort of behaviour has no place in our community and does nothing but send out the message that east Belfast is unwelcoming, when we know the opposite is true.

The Alliance party deputy leader added: “I hope the experience has not traumatised this poor family, who should be free to live where they wish without intimidation.

“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. Rather than Mr Abiona and his family, it is this kind of vile behaviour that should be unwelcome in our society.”