Sinn Fein’s Gerry Kelly raises residents’ Glengormley flags ‘worries’ with PSNI
Police say they have been made aware of concerns over a number of flags recently erected in the Carnmoney Road area of Glengormley.
Flags commemorating the centenary of Northern Ireland have been placed on lampposts alongside Ulster banners.
The action has been challenged by North Belfast Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly, who said concerned residents have been in contact with his office.
Mr Kelly said: “This proliferation of loyalist flags on the Carnmoney Road is unacceptable and is clearly aimed at marking out territory and intimidating residents.
“My office has been contacted by many local residents worried and concerned after the flags appeared near their homes in recent days.
“It is my understanding that these flags have been put up in mixed communities and have extended much further than previous years. I have contacted the PSNI and The Department for Infrastructure to raise these concerns.
“People have a right to live free from the sectarian intimidation that these flags are designed to represent.”
However, Ulster Unionist Alderman Mark Cosgrove believes unionist residents are “entitled to celebrate their culture.”
The Glengormley representative told this newspaper: “I completely disagree with the assertion that the flags have been erected in ‘a majority Catholic and nationalist’ area.
“That claim will come as news to the many unionists who live in the same area and who are as entitled to celebrate their culture and remember their history as any other community in Northern Ireland.
“I fully understand the sensitivities that exist in this country regarding flags and emblems, and how we all need to show tolerance and respect.
“I also understand that the flags which have been put up are the Northern Ireland flag and the centenary flag. These are not offensive flags and this is the centenary year of Northern Ireland. We must all work to ensure that the next 100 years of our country are marked as a time of peace and prosperity, with mutual tolerance and respect. That is certainly my aim.”
Police have said they are aware of the flags being flown in the area.
In a statement, Chief Superintendent Davy Beck said: “Police have received a number of reports in relation to the erection of flags in the Carnmoney Road area of Newtownabbey. While the removal of such items is not the responsibility of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, the PSNI is committed to working with communities and partner agencies to build a safe and inclusive society.
“Across the year and across many communities in Northern Ireland, local people erect flags, banners and other symbols relating to cultural identity, political issues and support for particular views which may be contested by others in the community.
“In many cases such symbols will cause offence to one community, but may not be in themselves illegal. The flying of any flag or banner should be carried out with the consent of the person or organisation who owns the street furniture or property on which the item is flown or displayed.
“Where reports of banners or flags being erected are received, the PSNI will attend to ascertain proof of permission for erecting a banner or flag and gather evidence in the event that any offence is committed. Details are passed to the relevant land or property owner, who will decide on the appropriate course of action which may include the matter being reported for prosecution.”
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