PSNI responds to Belfast Ormeau Road flags row

Flags on the Ormeau Road in south Belfast. Picture by Philip Walsh
Brendan Hughes

POLICE have said removing flags isn't their responsibility after a Sinn Féin minister accused them of "reneging on promises" over loyalist flags.

Union and Northern Ireland flags were placed on lampposts on Monday along the Upper Ormeau Road in south Belfast.

Two years ago 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.

Sinn Féin South Belfast MLA and finance minister Máirtín Ó Muilleoir 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."

But Alliance South Belfast MLA Paula Bradshaw said Sinn Féin should address the issue itself as it holds the executive department the deals with the flags protocol.

PSNI Chief Superintendent Chris Noble said police will only remove flags where there are "substantial risks to public safety" or a criminal offence is thought to have occurred.

"The experience within policing shows that 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."

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