Northern Ireland news

Flags on Ormeau road should be ‘removed immediately', Alliance councillor says

There are still some flags remaining on the Ormeau Road months after the end of the marching season. Picture by Hugh Russell
John Monaghan

FLAGS still lining an arterial route in south Belfast should be removed immediately, an Alliance councillor has said.

Emmet McDonough-Brown said there could be no justification for the continued presence of flags on Ormeau Road long after the marching season had ended.

"Some have been removed and for reasons of idleness or lethargy others remain," he said.

"This is unacceptable in a shared space and national symbols should not be abused to demarcate territory.

"The Ormeau Road is vibrant, diverse, and mixed. There is no evidence that residents wish to see flags on lampposts, and despite several challenges to prove otherwise, none has been forthcoming.

"The views expressed to me by residents clearly reject this behaviour and I appeal to those involved to remove the flags immediately."

Rows over flags on the Ormeau Road have been rumbling on for several years.

In June, police said that they were not responsible for removing flags.

PSNI Chief Superintendent Chris Noble said officers would only intervene where there are "substantial risks to public safety" or a criminal offence is thought to have occurred.

"The experience within policing shows that is the approach most likely to provide for public safety and prevention of disorder," he said.

"Police action on its own is not sufficient – instead we all need to work together."

Union and Northern Ireland flags were placed on lampposts ahead of the marching season along the Upper Ormeau Road in south Belfast.

In 2014 police said that in future the flying of loyalist flags in the mixed community would be treated as a "breach of the peace".

But last year the PSNI said it was an issue for the local community to resolve.

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