Belfast Telegraph

Community talks see Union flags and Irish tricolours removed from council depots

By Rebecca Black

Belfast's second row over flags has been defused following community talks.

Fury was sparked when Union flags and Irish tricolours were erected at various council depots across the city.

The move came after the council voted in December 2012 to limit the number of days the Union flag is flown over City Hall to 20 each year.

The decision sparked loyalist fury with City Hall being stormed minutes after the vote before months of flag protests and attacks on Alliance Party offices.

Union flags were erected in response at a council property at Agnes Street off the Shankill Road and Park Road in the east of the city.

Tricolours were then erected at the Springfield Road council depot.

The council refused to take the flags down.

Last month it emerged that council workers felt they were being put at risk because of the presence of the flag at the Springfield Road premises.

Terrified staff said since the flag was put up, they were intimidated with one worker even receiving a loyalist death threat.

The council confirmed that one of its staff received a bullet and said it had notified police.

One employee who works at the Springfield Avenue depot said the latest flag row began in June when Union flags went up at the Tennent Street premises.

"Tricolours then appeared on some of the depots and it escalated from that," he said.

This week the flags were finally removed following talks between the council and local residents.

A council spokesman confirmed the flags had been taken down, but said it had not been by any of its workers.

"We are aware of the removal of flags at some depots," he said.

"While the council staff did not remove these, it has been working with local people and groups to come to a solution on this sensitive issue."

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