Northern Ireland news

Loyalist paramilitary flags placed on war memorial in south Belfast

Loyalist paramilitary flags and a temporary plaque were placed on the memorial in south Belfast
Brendan Hughes

LOYALIST paramilitary flags were erected on a war memorial in south Belfast as part of a UDA commemoration.

A temporary plaque was also placed on the memorial in south Belfast last week to mark 25 years since the deaths of Joe Bratty and Raymond Elder.

The UDA men – shot dead by the Provisional IRA on the Ormeau Road on July 31 1994 – were linked to a gun attack on Sean Graham bookmakers on the same street in 1992 in which five Catholics were killed.

The memorial on Candahar Street near Annadale Flats has been annually used to honour the pair since it was controversially built in 2014 at a cost of £11,000 to the Housing Executive (NIHE). It has said the structure was intended as a First World War monument.

A picture was posted on the Belvoir and Ballynafeigh UPRG page on Facebook showing the memorial adorned with wreaths, loyalist paramilitary flags and a plaque bearing the names of Bratty and Elder.

The commemoration came despite a flags protocol agreed last year for the mixed Ballynafeigh area including Ormeau Road that aimed to prevent the flying of paramilitary flags.

Under the protocol, no paramilitary-linked flags are to be flown and only the union flag and Ulster banner are displayed.

It also seeks to restrict the flying of flags to the period from mid-June to early September, and only one per lamppost.

The protocol was announced by DUP South Belfast MLA Christopher Stalford and backed by the Green Party.

At the time Mr Stalford said those behind the arrangement were "trying to improve community relations".

A similar paramilitary display also appeared at the memorial last year.

Alliance councillor Emmet McDonough-Brown said it "appears to be another failure of the DUP/Green flags protocol in south Belfast".

"The presence of UDA flags at this publicly funded space is a direct challenge to NIHE who should have them removed. Public property belongs to everyone and attempts to demarcate it must always be rejected," he said.

A DUP spokeswoman said: "We have been very clear on these issues. Flags or any other emblems supporting paramilitaries have no place in our communities."

A Green Party spokeswoman said: "The Green Party NI wants to see an end to all paramilitary flags and emblems in any area at any time.

"That's why we supported the removal of paramilitary flags through a Belfast City Council motion earlier this summer."

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