PSNI accused of ‘reneging on promises' over flags in Belfast

Sinn Féin's Máirtín Ó Muilleoir said it "represents reneging by PSNI on promises" to the community. Picture by Mal McCann
Brendan Hughes

THE PSNI has been accused of "reneging on promises" over loyalist flags erected in a mixed area of south Belfast.

Union and Northern Ireland flags were placed on lampposts on Monday evening along the Upper Ormeau Road ahead of the summer parading season.

It comes two years ago after 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 when the flags were again erected the PSNI said it was an issue for the local community to resolve.

On Tuesday, Sinn Féin South Belfast MLA and new finance minister Máirtín Ó Muilleoir criticised the PSNI over the flags again being erected in the area.

He said on Twitter: "Erection of flags on Ormeau Road contrary to wishes of majority of local people represents reneging by PSNI on promises to community."

The area used to have a Protestant majority but now almost 57 per cent are Catholic while 27 per cent are Protestant, according to the recent census.

Claire Hanna, SDLP assembly member for South Belfast, also expressed concern over the new flags.

"It is frustrating that once again shared areas like the Ormeau Road and Lisburn Road have been covered in flags six weeks before the Twelfth of July," she said.

"This continues to be a source of frustration for residents who are forced to live under the shadow of these unwelcome flags on main thoroughfares for so long."

The PSNI did not respond to requests for a comment on Tuesday night.

In 2014 police were spotted removing flags from a flashpoint interface in east Belfast.

Images of officers removing a Union flag from the loyalist Mount area of east Belfast, which faces the nationalist Short Strand, were posted on social media.

The PSNI had previously said it had no powers to remove flags and emblems from public places.

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