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Row over erection of flags an engineered one

IN recent weeks a deliberate campaign of misinformation concerning the issue of erecting flags in south Belfast has been engineered by certain political parties.

This campaign, while appealing to their own core prejudices, has raised tension needlessly and drawn the PSNI into a political wrangle that is counter-productive and destructive to community relations in south Belfast.

It is time to cut through the political spinning.

It is not a criminal offence to erect a flag on a lamppost and the police will only involve themselves if it is likely to lead to a breach of the peace.

That position represents the policy that has been in place for many years. There has been absolutely no shift in the PSNI approach on dealing with these issues. Politicians running to the media talking up a "new" approach, when one has not been adopted, is errant stupidity.

Either they have misunderstood what the police have told them, or they have deliberately chosen to misrepresent the situation.

They are creating an impression that the police are effectively taking their "side" in an argument about flags. Do they not see the folly of such an approach? Northern Ireland faces many potential difficulties over the next month or so. It would be helpful if people could at least stick to facts when presenting an argument, instead of playing fast and loose with the reality.

ALD CHRISTOPHER STALFORD (DUP)

Belfast City Council

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