Police investigating complaints about asylum seekers in Carrickfergus as potential hate crimes

Carrickfergus where asylum seekers are being accomodated. Credit: UTV

Police are investigating a number of online complaints about asylum seekers in Carrickfergus as potential hate crimes.

The messages were posted on social media after men and woman were given accommodation at a hotel in the town.

Speaking about the issue, Assistant Chief Constable Bobby Singleton said:

"Over the course of this week officers in Carrickfergus have been engaging with the men and women who are seeking asylum and various stakeholders including the Home Office and Mid and East Antrim Council.

"Police will continue to engage with and provide reassurance to all parties and indeed the wider migrant community who we know are concerned by these events," Asst Chief Con Bobby Singleton said.

"It is important to remember that it is not illegal to seek asylum in the United Kingdom.

"Once people arrive in the UK and seek asylum, they then go through a rigorous process during which their asylum cases are assessed before a decision is taken to remain as refugees.

"Refugees status is granted on the basis that they could live safely in any part of their country for fear of persecution on the basis of their race, religion, nationality, political opinion or anything else that puts them at risk including their gender, gender identity or sexual orientation," he explained."

"As a Police Service we have a duty and are committed to protecting everyone but in particular vulnerable people."

A joint statement by minority ethnic, migrant and human rights groups has called for all political leaders to condemn the messages. "Silence is not an option when leadership is needed," the statement said.

The group are also calling on the PSNI to ensure the safety of the asylum seekers and ensure that all migrants and members of minority ethnic communities can feel safe across Northern Ireland. "We thank everyone in Carrickfergus and the wider community who have shown love, compassion and welcome to those who have sought temporary sanctuary in your midst," the statement continues.

"You embody the real spirit of this community."