Young Romanian mother speaks of her panic attacks from enduring nightly racist attacks on her Portadown home
For months a young Romanian family, who made Portadown their home, have faced nightly torture from racist thugs.
Florentina (Tina) and her husband Val, who came to Portadown with their young daughter five years ago, were targeted by a group of youths last weekend.
Tina, who gave birth to their second child eight months ago, says her family are terrified after the constant attacks.
She revealed that they had lived peacefully in Woodside for a number of years but during the pandemic she returned home to Romania to have her baby.
“My daughter, who goes to school here in Portadown, wanted to come back here as she missed her friends and school. She feels here is her home rather than Romania. So we came back after the baby was born.”
Tina revealed that they got a new house in Ballyoran but, while her neighbours and the community has been welcoming, a gang of youths have been constantly targeting their home since February.
The last attack was Saturday night when police said officers responded to ‘a hate crime in the Ballyoran area of Portadown’.
Tina, who does voluntary work with St Vincent de Paul, has described being ‘terrified’ for her children as the thugs pelted her house with objects and bashed her door in.
“We don’t drink alcohol or party. We are just an ordinary family. When we came back from Romania, we had to quarantine at home but as soon as we arrived with our luggage the attacks started,” said Tina who is now suffering panic attacks during the night.”
A spokesperson said: “A family who is repeatedly targeted by a group of youths, called Police for help. “These youths have taken it upon themselves to target residents of the community in an attack on their home, a family who have done nothing to warrant any type of trouble, targeted simply because of their race and nationality.
“Some of these youths involved may be on the periphery of the incident but there is a small element of the others intent on making life unbearable for families in Portadown who come here to work and seek a better life.
“No-one has the right to decree where someone should live based on their race or religion - this is hate crime.
“Parents/carers it is important to know where your child is, who they are with and what they are doing when they’re not with you - please know where your child is, especially in the evenings, and keep them and our communities safe. If you don’t know where your child is, find out.
“No family should feel intimidated in their home and alone in the community. Police will not tolerate this behaviour, nor should the community. Portadown is no place for hate.”
Sinn Féin Cllr Paul Duffy said: “This racist attack is to be condemned in the strongest terms. I have spoken to the family and assured them their neighbours and local community stand with them.
“Racism has no place in this community and I would appeal to anyone with information about this attack to bring it to the police.”
SDLP Cllr Eamon McNeill said: “It’s just heart breaking to see them living in fear. They chose this area to set up home and bring up their family and want to continue to live here.
“I spoke with local residents and they are disgusted that this should happen in their area where residents welcome new families into the area.”
SDLP Upper Bann MLA Dolores Kelly said: “The people of Ballyoran are rightly disgusted by this hateful behaviour. There is no excuse in our community for these sickening actions which do not reflect the welcoming spirit of the people of our community. Our community and society is stronger because of the contributions of those who come to set up their lives here from elsewhere. They deserve to live here in security and safety free from intimidation or violence.
“Those responsible behind this sustained targeting should immediately desist and should face the full force of the law. I would urge anyone with information about this cruel act to come forward and assist the PSNI with their enquiries.”
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