Belfast City Council To Act Over Flags

Belfast City Council has voted to take legal action to force the removal of paramilitary flags and banners.

It comes as tensions have been heightened in recent weeks as banners in support of a former soldier who is set to be prosecuted over Bloody Sunday deaths in L'Derry in 1972 appear across the city.

The Sinn Fein motion suggested the Department for Infrastructure should be forced to remove all paramilitary flags and banners erected without permission.

Councillor Ciaran Beattie welcomed council's decision to support the motion. He said: "Paramilitary flags and other flags and banners supporting the British parachute regiment have been erected throughout Belfast in recent weeks and clearly are being used to divide, offend and cause hurt to victims, particularly as the Ballymurphy Inquest continues. 

"Many of these flags and banners are attached to lampposts which are the property of the Department for Infrastructure who have failed to remove them. 
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"I welcome support from Council for our call for legal action to be taken to have these offensive flags and banners removed. 

"As elected representatives we have a responsibility to protect the interests of citizens.

"As a council, we can no longer allow those that set out to divide the city and promote hate continue these actions. We should stand together. We shall do our best to make our city, a good city, a city for all and an inclusive city."

Meanwhile, an Alliance Party motion for all flags to be removed from street furniture was defeated.

Councillor Emmet McDonough Brown said the lack of support for the call showed "poor leadership", but his party would continue to listen and stand up for residents.

He added: "At the heart of this debate is the impact and suffering of all those who found themselves victims throughout Northern Ireland's history – which is why I find it extremely confusing that any party would seek to allow some flags and emblems to remain.

"For many the appearance of these flags and emblems are deeply traumatic, causing great upset in our community. By nature they are designed to intimidate, creating hurt and difficulty for the many who live and work in our City."


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