North East Wales

Euro 2016: Portuguese businesses to shut for Wales match

Wrexham's Algarve restaurant is one of those closing ahead of tonight's Wales Portugal match Image copyright Algarve restaurant
Image caption Wrexham's Algarve restaurant is one of those closing ahead of tonight's Wales Portugal match

Wrexham's Portuguese community will close businesses during Wednesday's Euro 2016 semi-final.

Community leaders said despite talks with police, it was better to shut to "avoid any confrontation" during the Wales Portugal match.

Two cafes, a restaurant and a shop will shut at about 18:00 BST for "a number of reasons", not just fears of tension.

But they said there has been an increase in verbal abuse following the EU referendum result.

Wrexham Welsh centre Saith Seren has invited the Portuguese community to watch the match.

Iolanda Banu Viegas, chair of the Portuguese speaking community group of Wrexham, said: "They all spoke to police about security measures but they all decided that to avoid any confrontation it was better to just close down.

"There is definitely a fear. It's sad because of the sense that we want to be able to celebrate together.

"We have all been cheering for Wales until this match - and our children who were born here all want Wales to win."

Image copyright Google
Image caption Wrexham's Saith Seren Welsh centre have invited the Portugese community to watch the match

Windows smashed

Ms Viegas said Portuguese people had had windows smashed and cars damaged during previous football matches.

She added: "There has been no physical violence following the referendum result - but we have had some verbal abuse.

"It's something I've heard from Portuguese people across England and Wales."

Marc Jones, chair of Saith Seren, said it was a "tiny minority" that had been causing issues.

"I know anecdotally there has been tension post the referendum," he added.

"But obviously there have been some concerns, and it's a precaution from their point of view. They want to avoid anything that antagonises anyone.

"Its a shame. They have been here for a long time, they are very well-established and integrated.

"I have invited Iolanda and anyone else who wants to come to the Saith Seren this evening - they will get a very warm and robust welcome. I'm sure there will be a lot of banter and signing."

Image copyright EyeImagery
Image caption North Wales police and crime commissioner Arfon Jones said EU referendum-related abuse will not be tolerated

'Shameful and appalling'

Police said there has not been an increase in reported hate crime and community tensions in North Wales since the EU referendum.

North Wales police and crime commissioner Arfon Jones said: "Hate crime of any kind is a shameful and appalling act and will not be tolerated by north Wales police."

North Wales Police Assistant Chief Constable, Richard Debicki said: "I would like to reassure all of our communities across North Wales that we will do everything that we can to protect them from this kind of crime.

"Please do not suffer in silence. If you are concerned or have fallen victim to any sort of abuse or harm motivated by hatred, then contact us."

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