Belfast Telegraph

Lisburn confederate 'slavery flag' removed

A confederate flag, which SDLP Lagan Valley MLA Pat Catney condemned as 'a slavery flag', has been removed.

Mr Catney tweeted his concerns about the flag, which had been raised in Lisburn, on Tuesday night.

He wrote: "A number of deeply concerned residents have contacted me, appalled that a flag representing the enslavement of over three million people has been erected in Lisburn."

The MLA said he regards the raising of these flags as an insult to immigrants and a hate crime. He had reported the flags to the police, he added, with a request that they be "removed immediately".

“What kind of message does this send to people from around the world who have chosen to make Lisburn their home?" he asked. "This is a direct insult to those who have come here to live and work as part of our local community.

He continued: “Are we to say that the politics of racism and slavery are acceptable in Lisburn in 2017? Every right thinking person in our community will reject this. Every political representative should be explicit in their condemnation of this racist act. This is clearly a hate crime and should be treated as such."

He concluded by sending out a message of support to immigrants and members of minority communities. "My door will always be open to those of the many diverse backgrounds who make up our local community in Lisburn. They should not be intimidated by the erection of these flags.”

Speaking about the flags on BBC radio on Wednesday morning, Mr Catney said he is "not against one flag".

"I don't want any flags, I'm against them on both sides."

He said he regards the raising of contentious flags as "an attack by one community on the other community which may marginalise, even more, a minority community".

Later on Wednesday, the PSNI released a statement confirming that they were aware of the incident and added that the flag had been removed.

The spokesman said: "The flying of flags in public places is an issue that provokes a range of strong responses and very different viewpoints. The type of flags flown, how, where and when they are flown, are all important considerations.

"The reality is that while we understand the public’s frustration in this matter, police will only act to remove flags where there are substantial risks to public safety. Until the 'Joint Protocol in Relation to the Display of Flags in Public Areas' is updated, we will continue to work with communities and respond to any issue where there is a concern for public safety or where it is believed a criminal offence has occurred."

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