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Emma Little Pengelly urged to call for Ormeau flags removal

MP Emma Little Pengelly
Connla Young

DUP MP Emma Little Pengelly has been urged to call for the removal of Union flags put up in a mixed area of south Belfast.

Dozens of Union and Ulster flags were put up in the Upper Ormeau Road area by loyalists earlier this week.

Nationalists have in the past complained after flags were put up by loyalists on lampposts in the mixed Ballynafeigh district which was once mainly unionist but is now majority nationalist.

Sinn Féin MLA Máirtín Ó Muilleoir last night called on the DUP woman to demand the flags be removed.

“This is a mixed and diverse area,” he said.

“These flags are not wanted.

"They serve only to heighten tension and widen divisions.

“The DUP MP should use her influence with those responsible to demand they be removed."

The DUP declined to respond last night.

Alliance Party MLA Paula Bradshaw said those who put up the flags have no community support.

“I am disappointed that despite perennial complaints from people living in the Ormeau Road area, flags have been put up again this year,” she said.

“When will the wishes of the people choosing to live and raise their families in this mixed-neighbourhood be respected by those acting without community support.”

Earlier this week Ms Little Pengelly came in for criticism from the Alliance Party and SDLP after she claimed there was no widespread support for the removal of UVF flags from two mixed housing schemes in Belfast.

Ms Bradshaw said it was “almost beyond belief” that there was no widespread demand for the removal of the flags while SDLP MLA Claire Hanna described her comments as “outrageous”.

The former Stormont junior minister later tweeted that “I oppose all paramilitaries in our society, that includes paramilitary flags”.

In response to flags being put up in the area in 2014 the PSNI claimed that they would treat such incidents as a "breach of the peace".

However, a year later the force did a U-turn and saying “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”.

Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd last night said “the flying of flags in public places is an issue that provokes a range of strong responses and very different viewpoints”.

“The reality is that while we understand the public’s frustration in this matter, police will only act to remove flags where there are substantial risks to public safety,” he said.

He added that “until the 'Joint Protocol in Relation to the ‘Display of Flags in Public Areas' is updated, we will continue to work with communities and respond to any issue where there is a concern for public safety or where it is believed a criminal offence has occurred.”

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