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Sinn Fein silence on Belfast illegal street signs 'smacks of double standards,' says councillor

Police probe street signs honouring republicans

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An illegal street sign is put up in Belfast by a Lasair Dhearg member

An illegal street sign is put up in Belfast by a Lasair Dhearg member

An illegal street sign is put up in Belfast by a Lasair Dhearg member

The PSNI is investigating a controversial campaign by republicans to rename streets across Belfast.

Signs honouring deceased republicans - including Maire Drumm, Bobby Sands and 1916 Easter rising leader James Connolly - were erected around Belfast on Monday.

Lasair Dhearg, which was formed in Belfast in July 2017, changed the name of Queen's University to Mairead Farrell University - with signage erected across its prominent front gates in tribute to the former student and IRA member shot dead in Gibraltar in 1988.

The group said its campaign highlights British state colonialism, and historic figures associated with it, in Ireland.

The streets surrounding Belfast City Hall, including May Street and Donegall Square, were also renamed after three hunger strikers - Joe McDonnell, Bobby Sands and Kieran Doherty.

The actions were criticised by Ulster Unionist councillor and former Belfast Lord Mayor Jim Rodgers, who branded it appalling and sickening.

He told the Belfast Telegraph that the move was illegal and urged the PSNI to probe the incidents.

Yesterday, Inspector Natalie McNally said officers were making inquiries after the PSNI had received a report in relation to "footage on social media showing people erecting temporary signs".

Sinn Fein's "silence" on the issue has been described as "smacking of double standards" by a member of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Council.

DUP councillor Mark Baxter made the comment after his proposal for a new leisure centre in Craigavon to be renamed in honour of Northern Ireland's centenary was blocked by Sinn Fein Mayor Kevin Savage.

Mr Savage's party colleague Liam Mackle had branded the DUP proposal a "publicity stunt from start to finish".

Mr Baxter said: "It smacks of double standards. It's typical of Sinn Fein. What we wanted in the chamber was to have an informed, adult debate - and Sinn Fein accused us of a political stunt.

"But there's no more of a political stunt than what has happened in Belfast with the street signs, yet Sinn Fein are completely silent on that."

Sinn Fein was asked to comment on whether the party believed the actions by Lasair Dhearg were also a "publicity stunt", but a response had not been received at the time of going to press.

Belfast Telegraph