Those who continue to demonstrate hostile attitudes towards acceptance of difference should not be allowed to succeed.

Those who continue to demonstrate hostile attitudes towards acceptance of difference should not be allowed to succeed.

Boarded up windows on London Road in east Belfast, opposite a bonfire site

Children learn from the example set by their parents, so it is particularly disheartening to learn that young people as young as eight years old have been involved in racist attacks in east Belfast.

They were seen on video attacking a woman with rocks and shouting insults.

This was not an isolated incident. The same family was attacked last weekend by youths gathered at a nearby bonfire site.

It’s very easy to say that they were getting carried away, that they didn’t know what they were doing.

This is all part of an extremely unpleasant situation that has been developing in recent weeks, in which anti-social activity, culminating in racial attacks against people living in Northern Ireland, has been on the rise.

This is all part of a misguided and unfounded belief by some that they have the right to decide who lives where in the communities of Northern Ireland, and this is despite the great strides made in developing our country to make it the multicultural and welcoming society for all that the vast majority of people living here want it to become.

But still, a few can ruin the lives of many, and such is the power they wield in their communities.

There have been highly publicised incidents, leading to public outrage, in Antrim, Cookstown and Lurgan in recent weeks – this is not a Belfast-centric problem.

It is often the PSNI that issues statements appealing for information about what it is treating as “a racially motivated hate crime”.

It is not often that someone is held accountable for the intimidation — sometimes violence — that is being meted out.

The police can lodge appeals, but the chances of anyone coming forward with information are remote, given the threats and intimidation that occur daily.

Only when the leaders of these organizations who directly control, hold their communities hostage and govern what they believe to be “their territory” are removed will the troops in the field — often unwitting children and young people — begin to realize the damage they are doing to society.

Too much hard work and effort has been invested in developing Northern Ireland as a welcoming place for all cultures to allow those who continue to demonstrate such hostile attitudes to embrace differences and promote inclusion to succeed.

And our children must be given a better example.