Banners depicting IRA attacks should be removed from shared housing estate, housing chief says
Banners depicting IRA attacks should be removed from lamposts in a shared housing estate in south Belfast, a housing chief has said.
Banners with pictures of the Shankill and Enniskillen bombs and other IRA atrocities and with the hashtag Stand Up To Sectarianism were put up in Cantrell Close yesterday.
John McLean, chief executive of Radius Housing which overseas the development off Ravenhill Avenue, said the imagery was "not appropraite for a shared licing scheme".
"These banners should not have been erected and should be removed immediately," he said.
"There was no consultation with the people who live in this area and the imagery used is not appropriate for a shared living scheme which is home to families from all backgrounds.
"We strongly feel that this is not an appropriate way to display events of the past."
The organisation contacted the PSNI and politicians about the signs.
Mr McLean added: "Our staff have been on site to ensure that everyone can enjoy living in their homes and local community without any type of intimidation.
"Our prime concern is the welfare of the people who live in Cantrell Close and Global Crescent, and they should not be the focus of a wider political debate."
Last year four Catholic families in Cantrell Close left their homes due to sectarian threats.
Loyalist flags placed close to the area last month were removed with a group calling itself the East Belfast Community Initiative publishing an agreed flags protocol that would cover the area.
It is not known if the new banners will be removed at the end of the flags protocol in late September or if they have been placed in Cantrell outside of that agreement.
Sinn Fein Assembly member Mairtin O Muilleoir said it was no coincidence that loyalists were targeting the shared housing schemes at Cantrell and Global.
"Theirs is the politics of division and subtraction.
"However, they cannot be allowed to defeat the vast majority of the people of Belfast who believe in the politics of addition and multiplication."
Sinn Fein used the hashtag #StandUpToSectarianism last year.
SDLP Assembly member Claire Hanna said the atrocities depicted were appalling, sectarian and unjustifiable, but these banners were designed to achieve nothing more than stirring up tension and intimidating residents.
"In a grotesque irony, those who erected these banners also put up UVF flags on all routes to these housing developments and have taken no opportunity to condemn the UVF's numerous appalling, sectarian and unjustifiable murders.
"Victims of any background deserve more than being used as pawns for one set of paramilitary apologists to score points off another."
DUP South Belfast MP Emma Little-Pengelly has been involved in efforts to defuse tensions in the area.
The DUP has also in the past called for threats against Catholics in the area to be lifted.