08 July 2005

Newtownabbey Mayor says ‘I won’t go against loyalists’ on UDA flag


An illegal UDA paramilitary flag on the main Carnmoney Road will not be removed, according to the PSNI.
And the new DUP Mayor of Newtownabbey says because he’s a “loyalist” he doesn’t wish to comment on its presence.
Residents of the mixed area just yards from a Catholic Church complained to the North Belfast News about the flag at the junction of Coolhill Park and Carnmoney Road fronting Queens Park.
Nationalist councillors in Newtownabbey have condemned the erection of the flag.
Sinn Féin’s Breige Meehan said the PSNI had refused to remove flags “time and again”.
“This is obviously a sop to loyalists in Glengormley and again these paramilitaries are being treated with kid gloves by the police. Here we have republicans not protesting at the mini Twelfth and the erection of the arch in Glengormley.
“We welcomed an undertaking by the UPRG that the church would be free of flags, but our calls for reciprocation have been ignored,” she said.
Noreen McClelland, whose SDLP party colleague and MP for South Belfast, Alasdair McDonnell, has brought up the issue of flags this week, said the UDA flag was “totally unacceptable”.
“We believe the time has come for strong legislation to be put in place to deal with the issue of flags. Local people need to be listened to and not feel intimidated in their own home,” said Noreen McClelland.
Newtownabbey Mayor Billy DeCourcy said he didn’t want to make a comment “just yet” on the flag.
“I’m a loyalist and I don’t know what to say about that. I need to see where it is myself, but isn’t Queens Park a loyalist estate?
“I’m not against the union flag and in all honesty there’s nothing I want to comment on at the minute. I wouldn’t take Noreen McClelland’s part.
“It’s a dodgy one, the paramilitary flags. I don’t want to be pushed into a corner.
“I’m not going to go against the loyalist community. As I said I’m a loyalist, but if the police won’t do anything in all honesty there’s not much I can comment on at the minute,” he said.
A PSNI spokeswoman responded with a stock answer to NBN inquiries about illegal paramilitary flags, saying it was down to the community to remove them.

Journalist:: Staff Reporter

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