Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has described racist attacks on a group of Romanian families in Belfast as a ‘totally shameful episode’.

Mr McGuinness said those involved do not have the backing of the community.

Around 20 Romanian families were tonight moved to secure temporary accommodation, following attacks in recent days.

Authorities say they can stay at the secret location for at least a week.

The PSNI helped over 115 people, including a five-day-old girl, from their homes in the Lisburn Road area of the city because of the attacks.

They spent the night at a church hall in south Belfast.

The families had initially sought shelter in a nearby house but so many were trying to enter it that the City Church on University Avenue offered the use of their hall.

This morning, the city authorities moved the families by bus to a leisure centre.

The PSNI, who have rejected claims that they were slow to respond to racist incidents earlier this week, said they would be providing security for the families inside and outside their new accommodation.

Many of those whose homes were attacked say they now want to leave Northern Ireland.

Police and community leaders have condemned the racist incidents, which culminated in an attack on a rally in support of east European migrants on Monday night when youths threw bottles and made Nazi salutes.

A senior PSNI officer said police are examining video footage from CCTV cameras in the area and believe local people are responsible.

Local Alliance Party MLA Anna Lo said the families were very shaken by the attacks.