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Tricolours appear beside north Belfast housing development

Irish tricolours on display outside the Clanmil Housing site on the Mill Road in north Belfast. Picture by Hugh Russell
John Monaghan

REPUBLICANS have used Irish flags to mark out a new social housing estate as their territory in a mirror image of the actions of loyalist paramilitaries.

Sinn Féin has condemned the erection of tricolours outside a social housing development on the outskirts of north Belfast and called for their immediate removal.

The fresh attempt by republicans to claim the site at the Mill Road in Newtownabbey comes just days after loyalists were criticised for staking their claim on a similar shared housing development in Carryduff, Co Down, by erecting flags on "every lamp post".

The first residents of the north Belfast development moved into their homes earlier this month on the Felden site.

The homes are close to the nationalist Longlands area and nearby unionist White City.

A total of 97 homes, built by Clanmil Housing Association, are expected to be completed by April next year.

The houses are being marketed under a "together building a united community" slogan and a Clanmill brochure said it "hopes that Felden will be a mixed community where people choose to live with others regardless of their race, religion or background ..."

In August graffiti threatening "no Prods in Felden" and warning Protestant residents would be "bombed out, burnt out and shot" appeared at the site.

Sinn Féin councillor Michael Goodman said: "I would condemn the flags and any attempt to intimidate anyone. This is a shared site. It is being allocated on the basis of need regardless of where people come from ... we would call on them to bring the flags down."

Ulster Unionist councillor Mark Cosgrove said that "any attempt to mark out territory or raise tensions is totally regrettable".

"As I understand it there is a significant interest in the site from all of the community for these properties. I hope that when the final analysis is done that the idea of a shared scheme will come to fruition in other parts of north Belfast. We should not be dictated to by the lowest common denominator."

A spokeswoman for Clanmil Housing Association said that negotiations towards "an outcome acceptable to all" were continuing.

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