Belfast Telegraph

DUP's Pengelly slammed over 'let it be' attitude to terrorist flags in mixed estate

By Aaron Tinney

A DUP MP has been criticised for claiming there is no demand to take down UVF flags in a mixed housing estate in her constituency.

Newly-elected Emma Little Pengelly declared the majority of people she spoke to in south Belfast did not want to make "a fuss" over UVF banners being flown in the area.

The South Belfast MP's political rivals last night said it was "beyond belief" she was not campaigning against the flying of paramilitary flags.

UVF flags are flying in Global Crescent and Cantrell Close.

The housing developments are part of the Together Building United Communities programme, created when Ms Little Pengelly was a special adviser to the DUP.

The MP said she had visited about 100 homes and was satisfied that the majority "didn't want a public fuss around this matter".

She said: "There were some people who were very supportive of the flags, people who felt very much it was part of the tradition of the local area and the wider area.

"The majority of people said to me, 'We understand that the flags have gone up, but we also understand that they will come back down again'."

However, she admitted: "There were some who had concerns around this, who would prefer for the flags not to be there."

And the MP later tweeted: "Let me also be v clear - I have also stated categorically that I oppose all paramilitaries in our society, that includes paramilitary flags."

Last night loyalists hoisted Union flags and Ulster banners along the main Ormeau Road, another mixed area of Ms Little Pengelly's constituency.

Sinn Fein MLA Mairtin O Muilleoir said the flags "are not wanted" and the DUP MP "should use her influence with those responsible to demand they be removed".

Ms Little Pengelly was among the DUP politicians the UDA-linked magazine The Loyalist said the public should vote for in an edition published just before the general election.

She was also backed by the Loyalist Communities Council, which is supported by the UDA, UVF and the Red Hand Commando.

Alliance MLA Paula Bradshaw slammed the MP's commitment to taking down terror flags.

She said: "A shared community should be welcoming to all and intimidating to none.

"When Ms Little Pengelly won the Westminster seat she pledged to be an MP for all. It appears she has fallen at the first hurdle."

SDLP MLA Claire Hanna added: "Here we go again. Another year and no progress on the issue of irregular flag flying.

"The flying of illegal paramilitary flags is particularly frustrating in what was designed specifically to be a shared neighbourhood."

A DUP spokesman told BBC NI's Nolan Show: "Paramilitaries are a plague on society.

"The DUP condemns all those who cling to criminality and violence."

The PSNI said it was not responsible for removing flags, except where there was a "substantial risk to public safety" or where it was believed that a criminal offence had taken place.

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