Belfast Telegraph

Flags on the agenda as Sinn Fein set to meet new Chief Constable

A number of loyalist flags on display in Belfast
A number of loyalist flags on display in Belfast

Sinn Fein have said that illegal flags, Brexit preparations and Troubles legacy issues will be on the agenda when they meet the new PSNI Chief Constable for the first time.

Deputy leader Michelle O'Neill is leading a delegation to meet Simon Byrne at Stormont on Monday.

Mrs O'Neill said that there was "several issues which the newly appointed Chief Constable will quickly need to confront".

Former Cheshire police boss Mr Byrne succeeded Sir George Hamilton in the role last week.

The Sinn Fein deputy said her party would be discussing "the PSNI’s role in dealing with the proliferation of illegal flags and banners we have seen erected this year as well as the ongoing problem of hate displays at bonfires" with the Chief Constable.

“The PSNI’s preparations for Brexit as well as the need for more representative policing in partnership with local communities will also be raised," Mid Ulster MLA O'Neill said.

“We also have to be upfront that the nationalist community’s confidence in the PSNI has been damaged by the way it has handled the legacy issue in particular."

Mrs O'Neill said that police could show their commitment to securing peace and justice on legacy issues by supporting the implementation of legacy bodies agreed at the Stormont House talks.

Mr Byrne expressed support for the introduction of the stalled legacy mechanisms after taking office last week.

The flags issue has returned to the fore of Northern Ireland politics in recent weeks.

Paramilitary flags have been erected across Northern Ireland in the lead-up to the parading season, while 'Soldier F' banners have also appeared.

Soldier F faces prosecution for murder and attempted murder on Bloody Sunday

Last week Belfast City Council voted to take legal action against the Department of Infrastructure to force them to remove illegal flags in the city.

The new Chief Constable said there was a need for a "dose of common sense" around the flags issue.

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