Race hate crimes have soared over the past year in Northern Ireland, according to a recent study of racism in the region.
The annual Human Rights and Racial Equality Benchmarking Report found that up to three race-related incidents are being reported to the police in Northern Ireland every single day. Reported racist attacks have also jumped a shocking 43% in the past year, in figures obtained by the Belfast Telegraph.
South Belfast MP Alasdair McDonnell has commented that "Race hate crime has soared over the past year" and the local police recently launched 'Operation Reiner' after hate attacks against foreign nationals grew significantly.
Only 12 people have been successfully convicted for the 14,000 alleged hate crimes reported in Northern Ireland in the last five years.
The report noted that the incidents were mainly concentrated in the Greater Belfast area. Some of the alleged racist attacks detailed in the study include: a pipe bomb used to destroy a Polish family's car; excrement being thrown as a Romanian cyclist; and children being called "Jew whore," "dirty Arab," and "monkeys."
Recently, a Nigerian family gave up their new home in Belfast after protesters conducted a racist protest outside their home.
Five people turned up outside Michael Abiona's home in the Knockagoney area on Tuesday holding up banners saying "Houses 4 Local People" and "We need Homes 2" on them. The demonstrators claimed their protests were "not racist" and were in fact about "a bungalow equipped for pensioners and disabled."
Abiona, who has been living in Belfast since 2010 and is in fact disabled himself, has been forced to give up his home after fears he may be attacked.
Abiona's case isn't unique. Liam Kinney of the Housing Executive said that there are currently 10 cases where people have been prohibited from moving into properties they were entitled to.
But Irish residents are taking action and protesting on the streets against the rise in hate crime.
One incident that sparked outrage in Belfast was First Minister Peter Robinson saying he would not trust Muslims who had been involved in terrorist activities or those devoted to Sharia law. But he said he would trust them to go to the shops for him.
Protesters responded accordingly.
That same protest was also inspired after politician Anna Lo admitted she wanted to quit politics due to ongoing racist abuse. Supporters tweeted their support with #IStandWithAnna.
An anti-racist mural was even painted on Falls Road, by Danny Devenny and Marty Lyon.
Today, in response to the worrying rise in race crimes, Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness launched proposals on racial equality.
The first minister said: "Northern Ireland society has changed dramatically over the past decade and has been enhanced by the rich diversity of those people who have made their home here.
They make a valuable contribution to all our lives and any actions that make people feel unwelcome, vulnerable or intimidated must be condemned by us all."