Police will not remove flags at train station near Belfast City Airport - The Irish News
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Police will not remove flags at train station near Belfast City Airport

Police have indicated they will not be intervening to remove flags flying at the entrance to Sydenham train station in east Belfast. Picture by Cliff Donaldson

POLICE have indicated that they will not be intervening to remove flags erected at the entrance to a train station near Belfast City Airport.

Sinn Féin councillor Mairéad O'Donnell had called for the removal of UVF, Northern Ireland and Union flags which are being flown at the entrance to Sydenham train station in east Belfast.

The flags appeared on a lamppost on Inverary Drive, a short distance from the airport and one of the first sights to greet visitors using the station.

A spokesman for the Department for Infrastructure said that it while it "does not approve of the unauthorised use of departmental property, the removal of flags needs to be treated with sensitivity", and added that under flag protocols drawn up in 2005, the lead in such cases would be the police.

Inspector Keith Hutchinson said: "The removal of flags is not the responsibility of the PSNI and police will only act to remove flags where there are substantial risks to public safety.

"We will work with local communities and respond to any issues where there is a concern for public safety or where it is believed a criminal offence has occurred."

The loyalist Sydenham Bonfire Group, which held a fun day to coincide with the funeral of Martin McGuinness, said unionists will "never remove any flag at the behest of Sinn Féin/IRA."

It said: "All the flags flying are entirely lawful and a legitimate celebration of unionist culture. It is quite conceivable that many more flags will now be erected to send a strong message to Sinn Féin."

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