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Grease used to stop flags being removed in Liam Neeson's hometown

By Staff Reporter

Published 15/06/2016

Street pole: substance used
Street pole: substance used

Grease has been placed on street poles in an attempt to stop Union flags being removed just yards from the former home of Holywood superstar Liam Neeson in Ballymena, it has been claimed.

An emblems row has erupted in the area following the erection of the flags.

The 64-year-old actor - famous for such hit movies as Taken - grew up at Corlea Gardens in the religiously-mixed Demesne estate in the Co Antrim town and in recent days Union flags have been placed on poles at streets including nearby Glenshesk Drive.

Nationalist politicians have called for them to be taken down.

Houses which were in the former St Patrick's army barracks on the other side of Glenshesk Drive have been turned into public housing and those houses are religiously mixed.

The flags have been put on lampposts on the side of Glenshesk Drive closest to the former army houses but their erection in recent weeks has led to a war of words on social media and also a political row.

In recent days some of the flags were removed but they were put up again and eyewitnesses said grease was then daubed on the street poles by loyalists in a bid to prevent people from scaling them to remove the emblems.

SDLP councillor Declan O'Loan has objected to flags being put up on lamp posts.

He said: "This is a very serious situation. These flags have caused great anxiety and fear in the neighbourhood.

"It is very much a mixed community and flags have never been flown here. I have been in touch with council officers and through them, the PSNI. I now ask elected representatives of all parties to support the call to have these flags removed."

North Antrim Ulster Unionist MLA Robin Swann said: "Northern Ireland lacks any clear rules on the flying of flags from streetlights, it is not the responsibility of the police nor is it the responsibility of the council. Responsibility rests with the Executive parties who have yet to come to an agreement on the way forward."

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