Polish flags and campaign posters for Magdalena Wolska, a Polish Social Democratic and Labor Party candidate who stood for the Northern Irish Assembly in May 5’s election, were burned on bonfires in Belfast last week, sparking outrage and calls of racism, the Irish Times reported Friday.
Both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland have substantial numbers of Polish immigrants or descendants of immigrants, whom the burnings could have been intended to offend and scare.
The Polish Association for Northern Ireland called the flag burnings “racist intimidation” in an open letter.
“There is already a high level of hate-motivated incidents on members of the Polish community,” according to the association’s spokesman, Maciek Bator.
Bator said he worried the flag-burning could fuel more hate and race-related incidents against the Polish community.
Belfast city councillor Claire Hanna, also of SDLP, called the incidents a “symptom of the inability of a minority in Northern Ireland to accept difference,” the Times reported.