Wave of complaints over erection of loyalist flags

Flags erected on the Station Road Greenisland. INCT 26-136-GR
Flags erected on the Station Road Greenisland. INCT 26-136-GR

Discussions are ongoing between police and community representatives over the erection of paramilitary flags in parts of the borough.

It follows a wave of complaints from residents describing the UDA/UFF flags and banner on Greenisland’s Station Road as “intimidating”. It is thought a number have also been mounted around the Woodburn Avenue area of Carrickfergus

Councillor Noel Williams, chair of Carrickfergus Policing and Community Safety Partnership, said it was his understanding that police have been “inundated” with complaints over the issue.

Revealing the Alliance Party has been contacted by almost 30 people, he commented: “It is difficult to see how in the immediate future it will be resolved. I would like to see it being resolved to the satisfaction of the various communities.”

East Antrim MLA Davy Hilditch said the DUP had also received a wave of complaints.

“I was in the area on Saturday morning on constituency business and it was one of the most raised issues. Of those who have been in touch, most people have no issue with the Union Flag or Northern Ireland flag. But they are not happy with this.”

Adding that those responsible for putting the flags up were not garnering support from the community, the former councillor said he has raised the matter with Carrickfergus Borough Council and the PSNI.

UUP MLA Roy Beggs said: “I’m disappointed the progress that has occurred over the last number of years where we have seen some reduction in paramilitary flags, that improving trend has sadly come to an end.

“I would hope that those who have erected them will recognise the lack of support in the community for paramilitary flags and they themselves will bring them down.”

In response to the Carrick Times, police confirmed they received reports of a number of flags being erected in the Lower Station Road area of Greenisland.

A statement from the PSNI continued that “local police are actively engaged in discussions and conversations with local councillors and community representatives with a view to achieving a successful resolution”.

The statement added: “It is of note that no single body or agency has the answer to all of the issues surrounding the flying or the removal of flags in Northern Ireland.

“The experience within policing shows that the approach most likely to provide for public safety and prevention of disorder is based on the principles of engagement between local communities working with agencies including local police and resulting in local decision-making.

“The removal of flags is not the responsibility of the PSNI and police can only act to remove flags where there are substantial risks to public safety. This is entirely in line with existing PSNI policy and practice and does not represent any change in that policy.”