05/06/2018

Call For Banners Depicting IRA Atrocities To Be Removed Immediately

The Chief Executive of Radius Housing has called for banners depicting IRA atrocities to be "removed immediately" at a shared housing estate in south Belfast.

UVF flags were put up at the housing development in Cantrell Close last summer and a number of Catholic families moved out.

Loyalist banners with the hashtag 'Stand up against sectarianism' have been erected.

Mr John McLean said: "There was no consultation with the people who live in this area and the imagery used is not appropriate for a shared living scheme which is home to families from all backgrounds. We strongly feel that this is not an appropriate way to display events of the past. 

"We have been in contact with the PSNI, as well as local elected representatives, and our staff have been on site to ensure that everyone can enjoy living in their homes and local community without any type of intimidation. Our prime concern is the welfare of the people who live in Cantrell Close and Global Crescent, and they should not be the focus of a wider political debate."

Sinn Fein MLA Máirtín Ó Muilleoir said: "It's no coincidence that loyalists are targeting the shared housing schemes at Cantrell and Global. Theirs is the politics of division and subtraction. However, they cannot be allowed to defeat the vast majority of the people of Belfast who believe in the politics of addition and multiplication.
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"Last year, the UVF in East Belfast forced several Catholic families to flee their homes at Cantrell. Shared housing and shared communities are a threat to the sectarian gangs who wish to divide our community. Everyone needs to stand with those at the receiving end of this intimidation. 

"It's crucial therefore that Radius Housing and the PSNI do more to counter the activities of these gangs. 

"The political parties enabling the erection of flags to mark out territory and to intimidate and harass ordinary families need to speak out. The Green Party, in particular, needs to explain how this fits into the protocol they have endorsed with loyalist groups."

SDLP MLA Claire Hanna said: "There is no doubt that all of the atrocities depicted on these banners were appalling, sectarian and unjustifiable, but these banners are designed to achieve nothing more than stirring up tension and intimidating residents.

"In a grotesque irony, those who erected these banners also put up UVF flags on all routes to these housing developments and have taken no opportunity to condemn the UVF’s numerous appalling, sectarian and unjustifiable murders.

"Victims of any background deserve more than being used as pawns for one set of paramilitary apologists to score points off another.

"This reinforces the need for proper legislation on flying political flags and emblem - the current hotchpotch of self regulation and 'protocols' imposed with no resident consultation is meaningless. No one has the right to impose their malign political views and political stunts on everyone in a neighbourhood for months at a time."

(CD/LM)

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