“We cannot allow ‘community tensions’ to continue to be used as a cover for criminality.
“Those people carrying out racially motivated hate crimes in Northern Ireland are not ‘community leaders’ – they are criminals and they should be treated as such by the criminal justice system.
“It is truly depressing to hear senior police officers link those involved in racially motivated hate crimes to paramilitaries.
“Paramilitaries have no role in a modern Northern Ireland. They exist to leach off our society and make money for themselves by being criminals.
“More and more we’re seeing social media used as a vehicle for the spreading of vicious racial hatred. While this is a relatively new challenge it is one that the Police and the big tech companies must rise to.
“The report by Spotlight raised serious questions about the role of the Police in dealing with unacceptable intimidation and harassment against the Belfast Multi-Cultural Association.
“I welcome the fact that the PSNI have referred themselves to the Police Ombudsman. A full and frank investigation into the findings presented by the BBC should now be carried out.
“Our justice system is meant to protect victims, not blame them. The victims who took part in the recent BBC NI Spotlight showed incredible courage in coming forward and telling their stories. It is my hope that their courage can help to make these kinds of crimes less likely in the future.”