Belfast Telegraph

Belfast council to vote on legal action to remove flags and banners

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

By Gareth Cross

Belfast City Council is to vote on taking legal action against the Department for Infrastructure to force them to remove flags and unapproved banners from their property.

The meeting was convened by Sinn Fein councillor Ciaran Beattie in response to a number of paramilitary flags and 'Soldier F' banners being erected across Belfast.

Soldier F faces prosecution for murder and attempted murder on Bloody Sunday. Flags in support of the former paratrooper have been put up throughout Northern Ireland.

At the meeting Councillor Beattie will say that "paramilitary flags and banners supporting British regiments are being used to divide, offend and cause hurt to victims."

"Re-traumatising victims with offensive displays is wrong and should have no place in our society," he will say.

Councillor Beattie will propose that council take legal action against the Department for Infrastructure to force them to remove paramilitary flags, unless permission for them has been granted by the department.

He will also propose that all banners without planning permission are removed from Department for Infrastructure property unless "permission is granted with protocols that protect citizens".

The proposal has already been backed by 13 of Sinn Fein's councillors. It will need the support of 31 councillors to pass, with Sinn Fein currently having 18 members on Belfast City Council.

Flags are traditionally erected in the run-up to the summer's parading season and removed later in the year.

They have been erected on public property and lampposts which are owned by the Department for Infrastructure.

The UVF flags in Cantrell Close
The UVF flags in Cantrell Close

The department has said that it is wary of taking action against those who erect the flags as it may "heighten community tensions" and put staff in danger.

Police said the erection of banners was not necessarily a crime and that they would act if the owner of the property the flag or banner was erected on made a complaint.

Belfast Telegraph Digital

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph