Government minister in charge of race hate legislation bans asylum
seekers from his office

The north’s race-hate crisis was fuelled this week when it emerged that the English MP tasked with bringing hate crime legislation into Northern Ireland has banned asylum seekers from his own Birmingham constituency advice office.

Northern Ireland Office minister John Spellar's decision to refer immigrants to solicitors' offices or the Citizen Advice Bureau has been slammed by the Belfast Anti-Racism Network.

The revelation comes just days after South Belfast's race-hate issues reignited with the circulation of anti-Chinese literature in the Donegall Pass area.

The leaflets entitled 'Yellow Invasion' call on the Protestant people of Donegall Pass to "rid our community of these Chinese immigrants" and have been connected to loyalist paramilitaries.

It has also emerged that a UVF commander in the area has attended mediation meetings between the local community and representatives of the Chinese community.

The loyalist paramilitary has previously been linked to extortion rackets targeting ethnic communities in South Belfast.

With the fresh outbreak of race hate tensions in Belfast John Spellar's record on the vexed refugee question has come in for heavy criticism.

In February last year Mr Spellar defended banning asylum seekers stating he would only see people who have a legitimate right to be in Britain and whose names appear on the electoral register. Anti-Racism Network spokesman Davy Carlin branded the Labour MP a hypocrite and asked if he would be prosecuting himself under his own legislation.

"It's hypocritical for him to talk tough on racist crime when refusing to deal with the most vulnerable in society. Will the real John Spellar please stand up, and if not, will he be prosecuting himself under his new legislation, if and when it is ever passed?"

John Spellar's Old Warley constituency office refused to comment on the asylum-seeker ban.

The row surrounding the British minister comes after South Belfast’s Chinese community was again targeted by racists. The hate-filled leaflet distributed this week warned of a "yellow invasion" and urged locals to defend their area.

The leaflet was distributed at a meeting at Donegall Pass Community Centre earlier this month, which had been arranged to discuss proposals by the Chinese community to build a centre in the district.

PSNI Chief Constable Hugh Orde said yesterday he believed loyalist paramilitaries were behind the distribution of the race-hate leaflets.

A police spokesperson also defended the PSNI's record in dealing with racist crime yesterday after they came under fire from ethnic leaders in the pages of this paper in February.

“Police have been working very closely with ethnic minority groups,” the spokesperson said. “There has been very good progress of late between all groups and we are disappointed by these latest events.”

Journalist:: Staff Reporter

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