Northern Ireland news

Union flag removed outside Catholic primary school in east Belfast

Before and after: The union flag outside St Joseph's Primary School in east Belfast on Wednesday, and right, the same scene yesterday
Brendan Hughes

A SINGLE union flag placed on a lamppost outside a Catholic primary school in east Belfast has been removed.

The solitary flag had been erected outside St Joseph's Primary School on Holland Drive, with no flags on other lampposts along the street in the vicinity.

Alliance councillor Sian Mulholland had described it as "extremely concerning and clearly an attempt to mark out territory".

But yesterday, following The Irish News reporting on the issue earlier this week, the flag was no longer on the lamppost outside the school.

It is unclear who removed the flag.

PUP councillor John Kyle had said the street is part of the route for the 'mini-Twelfth' at the start of July, and flags have been flown in the area in previous years.

He said the flag appeared to breach an informal "protocol" for the area to not place flags outside schools or churches.

But he added: "I think we need to keep a sense of proportion here. I think there are worse things that go on than a Union Jack outside a school."

Meanwhile, loyalists have removed tricolours erected in parts of Ballymena.

TUV leader Jim Allister had described the tricolours as a "provocative display" designed to "claim territory".

A loyalist Facebook page, Ballymena and Districts UPRG, yesterday said "loyalists got together" and "removed the foreign flags or Irish republican flags".

The PSNI said it was aware flags erected in the vicinity of Cushendall Road had been subsequently removed.

Superintendent Darrin Jones said the PSNI will only consider removing flags or banners "where there is an imminent and immediate likelihood of a breach of the peace".

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