03 June 2006

Nationalists call for removal of UVF flags from outside school


Nationalist politicians have called for loyalist flags to be removed from outside a Catholic school in North Belfast.

Last Friday a number of UVF flags were put on lampposts outside Our Lady of Mercy secondary school on the Bilston Road in the heart of the loyalist Ballysillan area.
This comes a year after the Housing Executive and PSNI launched an initiative to ensure that the flags issue was addressed. Called the Flags Protocol, it said it wanted to see interfaces and schools kept clear of bunting. Calling on those with influence to do what they could to get the flags removed, the SDLP’s Alban Maginness said the issue had to be resolved.
“I would call on the organisation responsible to take down flags that are really a provocation to people. These flags should be removed and everybody should use their good offices in order to resolve the matter and resolve it quickly.”
Echoing the call was Sinn Féin’s Danny Lavery who said he would be taking steps to ensure they are removed.
“I am calling for these flags to be taken down because schools are for education and people should be free to learn in an environment that is free from politics.
“I will work towards getting them removed as the pupils and staff of the school should not have to put up with such displays.”
A spokesman for the UUP said the party would back any initiative that stopped paramilitary flags from being flown.
“It is wrong that communities across Northern Ireland should have to endure the intimidation and triumphalist displays associated with the flags erected by paramilitary organisations. A number of local initiatives have provided alternative and much more constructive, non-sectarian ways of allowing communities to celebrate their cultural heritage. The UUP will continue to support such initiatives, and will use our every influence to ensure that such paramilitary displays become a thing of the past.”

Journalist:: Staff Journalist

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