UFF flags outside courthouse 'should be removed immediately'

 A UFF flag outside Newtownards Courthouse

UFF FLAGS put up outside a Co Down courthouse should be removed immediately, an Alliance MLA has said.

The loyalist flags were put up directly in front of Newtownards Courthouse over the weekend.

The flags were emblazoned with 'South East Antrim UFF'.

The paramilitary group has been responsible for several attacks. In 2011, it carried out a pipe-bomb attack on a Polish family in Antrim. The group also claimed responsibility for hoax bomb alerts at three Catholic-owned businesses in Antrim borough in the same year.

Alliance Strangford MLA Kellie Armstrong said the flags could intimidate courthouse users.

"It is appalling to see flags erected in support of any terrorist organisation," she said.

"The vast majority of people want to see all paramilitaries depart the stage, as there is no justification for their continued existence, never mind marking out territory in this way."

She said she had contacted police and the Courts Service about the flags.

"The placing of these flags in particular could interfere directly with the administration of justice, as they could intimidate anyone using the courthouse itself," she said.

"People have the right to celebrate their culture but paramilitarism has no place in our society. We cannot turn a blind eye to the flying of such illegal flags and urgent action needs to be taken to remove them immediately."

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