Northern Ireland

Arson attack at flat in Harryville, Ballymena, 'hate crime'

police officer

Police have said they are treating an arson attack in the Harryville area of Ballymena as a hate crime.

Shortly before 0600 BST on Tuesday, a fire was started in a coal shed at a flat in Chichester Park West.

It spread and damaged the front door of the flat. A couple and their baby escaped through an upper window.

SDLP councillor Declan O'Loan said the family targeted were Slovakian and it was the second attack on foreign nationals in the area in recent days.

In the early hours of Sunday, shots were fired at a house on the Larne Road occupied by Polish people.

Of the latest attack, Mr O'Loan said: "This was an extremely serious incident and it could easily have led to death if one family member had not detected the fire on time.

"I have no doubt that the fire was deliberately started and that the motivation was racial.

"There are clearly persons active in Ballymena who are so consumed by racial prejudice that they are quite willing to risk lives."