30/05/2018

Flag Protocol 'Cold Comfort' For South Belfast Residents

Sinn Féin has described a new loyalist flag protocol in South Belfast as "cold comfort" for residents.

The Ballynafeigh Unionist Forum issued a statement outlining the new flag protocol that would be adopted in the Ormeau Road area of Belfast.

Under the protocol, Union and Northern Ireland flags will be erected on the Ormeau Road for the beginning of the marching season and they will be taken down at the end of the marching season (weather permitting) – the season typically runs from June to September.

The Forum's statement continues: "There will only be one flag on lamp-posts and as usual we will not be putting any flags outside the entrance to the Roman Catholic Church. This is part of a long standing agreement made with the Roman Catholic Priest some years ago.

"Shared space is not the same as neutral space. During the months of July and August, we aim to express our identity and culture in our usual traditional manner.
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"We believe in freedom of expression. We live and work in this community with people from other traditions. We have made efforts to understand their background and cultures. We hope others can understand ours."

However, South Belfast MLA Máirtín Ó Muilleoir said: "News of another loyalist protocol for flag displays in Ballynafeigh will bring no comfort to those who wish to see an end to the use of flags to harass and intimidate the majority nationalist community in the district.

"Any proposals for flag protocols should be made through the Commission for Flags, Identity, Culture and Tradition so that all sections of society can have their say.

"The vast majority of the people of Ballynafeigh, regardless of their identity or background, do not want to see their neighbourhood bedecked in union flags by faceless men for the entirety of the summer period.

"The demand for an area free of paramilitary intimidation and flag-waving should be respected."

(MH/LM)

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