Belfast Telegraph

Dispute over Union flags erected 'too early' in Belfast

By Rebecca Black

Union flags yesterday appeared on Ravenhill Avenue in south Belfast - three days before a newly agreed loyalist protocol states they should be erected.

The development follows a row earlier this month when UVF flags appeared in the same area.

Those flags were removed following agreement in the local community.

At that time the East Belfast Community Initiative (EBCI) unveiled a flags protocol which stated flags should not be erected until June 1 and removed as soon as practicable following Ulster Day on September 28 but no later than October 7.

Yesterday, Alliance councillor Michael Long questioned why the flags had appeared, and indicated the area they were placed in is a mixed community.

"Less than a fortnight ago, flags removed along Ravenhill Avenue. Today they are back," he tweeted.

"It is May, a shared housing area and not good enough."

Jamie Bryson of EBCI last night explained the new flags had been put up by a private citizen and were Ulster flags and Union flags.

He said the group had no plans to remove the flags.

"The EBCI statement was clear - those groups associated with EBCI will erect legal flags on June 1 and remove them no later than October 7. That is the agreed protocol, which is also supported by the East Belfast Act Initiative," he said.

"We have made inquiries and are entirely content that all areas of influence are abiding by the agreement.

"We are not the flag police, and are not responsible for every single flag that is erected. We are most certainly never going to criticise any private individual that chooses to erect the national flag."

He added: "The real story here is the obsession of the Alliance Party in relation to any expression of British identity."

Belfast Telegraph

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