Flags put up again outside Belfast shared housing development

Flags on lampposts yesterday at Ravenhill Avenue. Picture by Hugh Russell
Brendan Hughes

FLAGS have been put up again outside a shared housing development less than a fortnight after others were removed ahead of a UVF-linked group announcing a flags protocol.

The Union flag and Ulster banner have been placed on lampposts along Ravenhill Avenue in south-east Belfast, near shared housing schemes Cantrell Close and Global Crescent.

Less than two weeks ago, UVF and other flags were removed from lampposts along the street within hours of being put up.

At the time, loyalist blogger Jamie Bryson – a spokesperson for a group calling itself the East Belfast Community Initiative (EBCI) – said there were ongoing "positive discussions" about a potential flags protocol.

A week later The Irish News revealed the east Belfast UVF agreement, which is said to have the support of loyalist groupings in east Belfast, north Down and Newtownards.

It states that flags will not be erected until June 1 and will be removed by October 7 at the latest.

The protocol says "only legal flags" will be flown from public lampposts. However, UVF flags regarded as 'historical' due to referencing the First World War will still be displayed.

Alliance councillor Michael Long hit out at the re-appearance of flags outside the shared housing developments.

"They weren't meant to start to June. It's again another failure even by their own terms," he said.

"They should be neutral spaces. I think it's a failure to deliver shared spaces within our community. I think it's a negative outcome."

He urged for the Commission on Flags, Identity, Culture and Tradition – a Stormont body formed in 2016 which has been examining flags issues – to be "brought to a conclusion and actually implemented".

A UVF flag last year at Cantrell Close in south-east Belfast. Picture by Mal McCann

In June last year there was controversy after UVF flags were put up in Cantrell Close and Global Crescent – new housing developments that are part of the Stormont executive's 'Together Building United Communities' programme.

Some months later four Catholic families were forced to flee their homes in Cantrell Close following threats blamed on loyalist paramilitaries.

How The Irish News last week revealed the flags protocol

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