Northern Ireland

Call for Belfast UVF billboard display to be removed

The large UVF poster in a billboard hoarding in the loyalist Village area of south Belfast.
The large UVF poster in a billboard hoarding in the loyalist Village area of south Belfast. The large UVF poster in a billboard hoarding in the loyalist Village area of south Belfast.

A huge UVF poster that has been placed in a billboard advertising hoarding in south Belfast has been slammed as a "celebration of paramilitarism".

The poster has been erected in a hoarding at Rockview Street in the `village' area.

The professional looking image, created to fit the hoarding frame, bears the name and logo of the loyalist paramilitary group and the words '2nd Battalion B. Company Village'.

It also features '1913', referring to the year the old UVF anti-home rule militia was formed by Edward Carson.

The hoarding still bears the name of advertising firm JCDecaux, but the company told The Irish News it was "no longer included in our commercial offering".

The frame, which has not featured advertising posters in several years, has previously been used to display UVF flags and an anti-Northern Ireland Protocol banner.

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SDLP councillor Gary McKeown called for both the poster and hoarding to be removed.

"Communities are sick and tired of this type of celebration of paramilitarism. What kind of message does it send out when visitors see this on a main road out of the city?” he said.

"It's time for those responsible for outdated displays like this to back off and start doing something positive for the community instead of holding people back.”

He added: "The owner of this billboard also has a responsibility to remove it if it's no longer in commercial use to prevent this from continuing."

Police have recently faced calls to take action on paramilitary displays after UVF and UDA flags appeared in nearby areas during the summer, including outside Windsor Park stadium.

A PSNI spokesperson told the Irish News no reports had yet been made to police over the billboard display.

Speaking in June on paramilitary flags, PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Bobby Singleton said police do not have "specific power" to remove them and would only act “where there are assessed risks to public safety”.