Belfast Telegraph

Flag over council depot led to death threat, claim staff

By Rebecca Black

Belfast City Council has refused to remove flags at a number of council depots across Belfast, despite workers claiming they have been put at risk.

Earlier this year the council removed an Irish tricolour from its Kennedy Way cleansing depot.

But it now says it cannot remove a Union flag from its Agnes Street depot, off the Shankill Road and at the Park Road base, or a tricolour from another premises on the Springfield Road.

Yesterday council workers said they feel they are being put "at risk" because of the flag at the Springfield Road depot.

Staff have said since the flag was put up, they have been intimidated with one worker even receiving a 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.

"After the flags went up, some pictures appeared on Facebook, that's when the intimidation really started."

The worker claimed that the council management told them that the flags will be staying up for the time being.

"It seems they are prepared to sacrifice our safety in order to avoid another flag protest," he said.

A spokesman for Belfast City Hall said: "The ongoing situation with flags being erected at a number of council depots is a sensitive issue.

"We continue to assess the situation at each site and are working with local representatives to try to resolve the issue.

"We also take into consideration the safety of our staff in reviewing our response to the situation."

BACKGROUND

Last December Belfast councillors voted to fly the Union flag on statutory days from the City Hall. In the same vote the flag was also removed completely from the Ulster Hall and offices at Duncrue. This vote sparked furious protests by loyalists in Belfast and across Northern Ireland. Today a massive parade is set to take place in the city centre marking a year since the vote.

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