A Call on the PSNI to remove flags in mixed areas in South Belfast
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As a resident of South Belfast I am again frustrated to see the erection of flags in some of the most mixed and diverse communities within our constituency. The display of Flags, Symbols and Emblems, which seem to grow in size and number year-on-year, in our mixed areas, continues to heighten tension and militates against numerous and varied groups occupying shared neighbourhoods in harmony.
Displays such as these run from the Ormeau Road to Carryduff and across the whole constituency and are seen by the majority of local residents as territory marking, coat trailing and are intimidatory. They are an eye sore erected by a vocal minority, often from outside the neighbourhoods, and do little to create an inclusive and outreaching environment for those of us who live here.
Many will be aware of South Belfast MP, Emma Little Pengelly’s recent assertion that she sees ‘no demand’ from the residents of shared neighbourhoods such as Global Crescent and Cantrell Close to remove UVF or Union flags and that residents ‘do not want a fuss’. Many of us believe this is not the case and that the majority of residents in mixed South Belfast and beyond would prefer to keep their neighbourhoods neutral.
In 2014 the PSNI said it would treat the erection of flags in the Ormeau area as a 'breach of the peace (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-33341150) however, the PSNI has since reneged on this position leaving locals exasperated and unsure where to turn.
The PSNI needs to remove the flags and enforce the position they took at that time. Inaction in dealing with these divisive displays in mixed areas is a failure to safeguard our right to live in a neutral space, free from sectarianism and harassment, as is contained in the Good Friday Agreement. This peaceful co-existence is what the majority of residents wants.
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