Northern Ireland news

Union flag placed outside Catholic primary school in east Belfast

A union flag on a lamppost outside St Joseph's Primary School on Holland Drive, east Belfast
Brendan Hughes

A SINGLE Union flag has been placed on a lamppost outside a Catholic primary school in east Belfast.

The solitary flag has been erected outside St Joseph's Primary School on Holland Drive in Ballyhackamore.

It appeared yesterday there were no other lampposts along the street in the vicinity that had flags flying from them.

Alliance councillor Sian Mulholland described the positioning of the flag as "extremely concerning" and called for its removal.

The Ormiston area representative said she would raise the issue at a meeting with the PSNI next week.

"This is extremely concerning and clearly an attempt to mark out territory by those who sought out this location and erected this flag. I'd urge those behind it to remove it immediately," she said.

"Across Northern Ireland we have seen flags and emblems appearing in locations which should be remaining shared and open spaces.

"That's why with a flags protocol not yet secured, Alliance has organised a meeting with the PSNI which is set to address a range of issues, including this one."

PUP councillor John Kyle said the street is part of the route for the 'mini-Twelfth' at the start of July, and flags have been flown in the area in previous years.

He said the flag would appear to be in breach of an informal "protocol" for the area to not place flags outside schools or churches.

"It's part of the protocol that flags are not flown outside churches or schools so in that sense it's breaching the protocol," he said.

Mr Kyle said in an "ideal world, it's probably not the best place for it", but stressed that it was a Union flag rather than a paramilitary flag and "it's on a parade route".

"I think we need to keep a sense of proportion here. I think there are worse things that go on than a Union Jack outside a school," he said.

"It's not ideal but I think we need to keep a sense of proportion."

Meanwhile, concerns have been raised about flags in Larne where a UVF flag has been placed outside a Catholic church.

A UVF flag and a Union flag have been placed on a lamppost outside St MacNissi's Church, which is beside St MacNissi's Primary School.

Alliance councillor Robert Logan, a Larne Lough area representative, said there were "flags everywhere" in Larne.

"I think that flags shouldn't be on lampposts anywhere because they're put up to mark territory, and when they're put outside the Catholic church and Catholic primary school they're directly designed to cause offence," he said.

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