Belfast Telegraph

Anger over 'Soldier F' banner in mixed area of south Belfast

The banner on the Lisburn Road in south Belfast
The banner on the Lisburn Road in south Belfast

By Mark McConville

There have been calls for the removal of a banner erected on one of the busiest roads in Belfast supporting British soldiers and linked to 'Soldier F'.

It was put up in a mixed area of the Lisburn Road at the weekend and reads: "Our soldiers are heroes, not criminals."

The sign, featuring the Parachute Regiment emblem, is the latest to appear after the decision to prosecute a paratrooper for the murders of two people on Bloody Sunday.

South Belfast Sinn Fein MLA Mairtin O Muilleoir called on the PSNI to remove the banner. He said it "has nothing to do with the cause of justice and everything to do with intimidation and marking out territory".

"The community is in no doubt that certain loyalist paramilitaries have given their blessing and put their muscle behind the display of similar banners across the North," he said.

The PSNI has said previously it is not responsible for flags.

Alliance South Belfast MLA Paula Bradshaw added: "People are entitled to make their case if they wish, but they must do so responsibly. Such banners have no business being there, nor do they assist any case.

"Where such banners are clearly erected to antagonise - and that is exactly how they are viewed by the local community - they should of course be removed immediately."

SDLP MLA Claire Hanna labelled the sign "provocative, divisive and intimidating".

On Friday the MoD spoke out against the unofficial flying of Army flags and emblems, saying they "should be used only in an official capacity". Ulster Unionist MLA Doug Beattie, a former soldier, also said people should show their support for the Army in a different way.

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