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Alliance Party accused of ‘inflaming community tensions’ after reporting Lurgan flags and bunting to PSNI


The bunting and flags in Lurgan town centre Credit: Belfast Telegraph

The bunting and flags in Lurgan town centre Credit: Belfast Telegraph

The bunting and flags in Lurgan town centre Credit: Belfast Telegraph

The Alliance Party has been criticised for “inflaming community tensions” after they reported loyalists to the PSNI who were setting up red, white and blue bunting in Lurgan.

It is understood party officials objected to the flags being erected in the town centre and said they had received concerns about “forklifts creating a traffic hazard”, with police confirming they had received the report.

A spokesperson for the PSNI confirmed their officers attended and said “enquiries are ongoing”.

The bunting and flags were being put up in the town in the run-up to the Twelfth celebrations.

DUP MP Carla Lockhart claimed Alliance were showing “intolerance of all things PUL [Protestant, Unionist, Loyalist]”.

"Glad to be [able] to assist in ensuring this was allowed to happen. As the police confirm no offences detected,” Ms Lockhart tweeted.

TUV Upper Bann representative Darrin Foster branded the action by the Alliance Party as “laughable”.

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“That Alliance reported loyalists to the PSNI for erecting red, white and blue bunting in Lurgan will serve only to inflame community tensions in the run up to the Twelfth.

“Who do Alliance think they are? Making a complaint to the police about traditional bunting going up; as it has done for generations; would be laughable were it not for the fact that the crypto-nationalist party responsible holds the Justice Ministry.

“Understandably the PSNI have said that no offense was detected. Tellingly, in spite of this Alliance has doubled down on making the complaint, laughably citing safety concerns.

“It seems that the party which likes to preach to us all about the need for tolerance and respect shows neither when it comes to expressions of loyalist and British culture.”

In a statement, Alliance Party Lurgan Councillor Peter Lavery said: “Everyone in Northern Ireland is free to celebrate their culture but it must be done in a safe and respectful manner.

“Alliance will always prioritise public safety and in this instance, raised concerns after being notified about forklifts creating a traffic hazard. Since then, paramilitary and Parachute Regiment flags have also gone up in Lurgan, with UVF flags now erected outside mixed housing developments in a clear and sinister bid to raise tensions.

“Alliance has been consistent in calling for legislation to better regulate the flying of legal flags and emblems from street furniture, so they are done in a regulated, time-bound manner following appropriate consultation.

"We call on all other parties to unite behind that call, to stop the marking of territory and intimidation of residents.”

In a statement PSNI Chief Inspector Bernard O’Connor said: “Within the current statutory framework, the removal of flags is not the responsibility of the Police Service nor do we have a specific power to do so and we will only act to remove flags where there are assessed risks to public safety owing to their erection.

“We are aware that this is a sensitive issue for the whole community and there is no easy solution. There is no community or political consensus on the flags issue and ultimately this requires a political, not a policing resolution.

“Our experience shows the most effective solution to this issue is negotiation, mediation and engagement between local communities working with agencies including local police.

“We will continue to work with local communities and partners to find long term solutions to the issues surrounding the flying of flags.”

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