Northern Ireland news

IRA sign removed from outside Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital

The IRA sign was removed on Wednesday
Brendan Hughes

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AN SDLP councillor who called for the removal of an IRA sign outside the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast said party members have taken it down.

The sign, which includes a machine gun image, is believed to have been on display since around Easter.

Mr Attwood said SDLP members removed the sign last night, adding "hospitals should be neutral for staff and patients alike".

He said the party would be requesting a meeting with police to "seek further clarification on plans for similar displays to be disposed off across the city".

Similar IRA signs were still visible in other locations in west Belfast yesterday including the corner of Albert Street and Divis Street beside the international wall of murals.

SDLP councillor Donal Lyons shared online a picture of the removed sign in a Belfast council-branded bin.

"No excuses, no justification, no place for paramilitary trappings in our city," he said on Twitter.

"Into the dustbin of history you have gone and in the dustbin of history you should remain."

Meanwhile, a south Belfast residents' group has said an east Belfast UVF flags protocol "does not demonstrate any progress".

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

It states that "only legal flags" will be flown from public lampposts. However, UVF flags regarded as 'historical' due to referencing First World War connections will still be displayed.

Flags will not be erected until June 1 and will be removed by October 7 at the latest.

The protocol was announced by the East Belfast Community Initiative, which says it "mediates on behalf of ex-combatants linked to east Belfast UVF".

The South Belfast Residents for the Regulation of Flags – previously known as South Belfast Residents Against Flags – said: "It is difficult to see how the protocol differs from what communities are forced to put up with year after year."

They added: "To suggest that the UVF flag is rendered inoffensive by the inclusion of a small '1912' is a transparent attempt to circumvent the law."

The group called for flags to only be flown on private property.

How The Irish News revealed the east Belfast UVF flags protocol

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