Polish flags burned on Belfast bonfires on July 11th

Fri, Jul 20, 2012, 01:00

EVIDENCE HAS emerged that Polish flags were burned on bonfires in Belfast on July 11th. In east Belfast, election posters for a Polish candidate, Magdalena Wolska, who stood for the SDLP in the last Assembly elections, were also burned on a bonfire.

Northern Ireland has a large Polish migrant population. In an open letter, the Polish Association for Northern Ireland described the incidents as a form of “racist intimidation”.

Association spokesman Maciek Bator called on politicians and community leaders to take action.

“The Polish flag is a symbol of freedom, independence and peace for the 30,000 Polish people living in Northern Ireland and around 80 million across the globe. By burning the Polish flag and other symbols, some members of the local communities were able to express their strong political views and promote anti-Polish sentiments.”

He is concerned the burning of national symbols could result in more racist attacks. “For many participants, especially the youth and young people, the burning of the Polish flag could become a clear signal to expand hate to other aspects of life. There is already a high level of hate-motivated incidents on members of the Polish community.”

SDLP Belfast city councillor Claire Hanna said the burnings were a “symptom of the inability of a minority in Northern Ireland to accept difference”. Alliance MLA Anna Lo said the people who burned the flags were “bigots”.