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Loyalist group says all flags should be taken down

The Somme commemorative flag was launched earlier this year in an attempt to replace paramilitary flags

A LOYALIST group with links to the UDA has called for 'all' flags to be taken down from lampposts by the end of this month.

The South Belfast UPRG said that as the marching season ends, flags should now be removed to prevent them becoming "tattered and torn".

Earlier this year the Loyalist Communities Council, supported by representatives of the UDA, UVF and Red Hand Commando, launched a Somme commemoration flag to replace paramilitary emblems and said flags should only fly for three months over the summer.

The initiative received only a lukewarm response from many loyalist areas, who continued to fly paramilitary flags over the marching season.

A previous protocol that removed all flags from interfaces and limited the flying of flags to certain months was abandoned after the 2012 Union flag protests.

A Commission on Flags, Identity, Culture and Tradition was formed as part of the Fresh Start political agreement to come up with new arrangements.

Lisburn UPRG has already started removing flags that were displayed over the summer months and other flags in south Belfast are expected to be gone by the end of the month.

In a statement to The Loyalist magazine, the group said a consultation took place several months ago.

"In the first week in September local communities will commence the operation to take them down so we would urge everyone to make sure this is copied all over our city," it said.

"There is no need for flags to be flown all year round outside hotels, parking facilities or the commercial heart of the city as it serves no purpose.

"Be respectful, be proud and most of all be British. Take your flags down in September."

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