15/04/2013

PSNI To Meet Residents Over UVF Flags

The PSNI says it will meet with community representatives in east Belfast following numerous complaints over the erection of UVF flags in the area.

Ulster Volunteer Force flags were erected on Sunday, as a group of men stopped and directed traffic on the Belmont Road.

The move is to mark the centenary of the formation of the UVF.

The original Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) was an army established in 1913 to fight against Home Rule in Ireland.

The modern UVF is a paramilitary organisation founded in 1966, which took on the name of the original organisation. The group carried out some of the worst atrocities during the Troubles.

The PSNI has released a statement saying it is aware that flags have been erected to mark the commemoration parade.

"Senior police officers will be meeting with community and political representatives together with parade organisers early next week to address any concerns," the statement said.

The Alliance Party says it has been contacted by residents who are angered by the erection of the flags and the fact that they were not involved in the decision to allow the flags to go up.

Alliance MLA Chris Lyttle says he has renewed calls on the Office of First Minister & deputy First Minister and the PSNI to "address the misuse of all flags and emblems".

He said: "I have been contacted by local residents in East Belfast who are angry at the erection of UVF flags along key arterial routes, without consultation or notification. The allegation that men with masked identities used elevated work platform vehicles in broad day light to erect the flags is particularly sinister and a challenge for the rule of law.

"Residents who object to this behaviour were not consulted, the organisations concerned are regarded as paramilitary and government agencies have taken no action to remove the flags. I have been in contact with the PSNI to inform them of residents' concerns and ask what action they can take with the other agencies to address this matter.

"How we mark centenaries with dignity is a challenge that requires strong and inclusive leadership.

"This incident demonstrates the urgent need for the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister to accept their statutory responsibility along with the PSNI, agencies and political parties to comprehensively address the appropriate use of all flags and emblems."

(IT/CD)

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