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UVF flags in Belfast mixed housing scheme 'absolutely appalling'



The UVF flags in Cantrell Close

The UVF flags in Cantrell Close

The UVF flags in Cantrell Close

The erection of UVF flags in a shared housing scheme in Belfast has been slammed as "absolutely appalling".

Several flags featuring UVF emblems were hung from lampposts in Cantrell Close in south Belfast over the weekend - the latest in a series of controversial incidents in the area in recent years.

Belfast Alliance councillor Eric Hanvey said the flags were put up simply to intimidate residents and pointed out that they are only confined to one area.

"Absolutely appalled at UVF flags going up in Cantrell Close again. This is intimidation plain and simple," he said.

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"I hope that all the local elected reps will condemn these flags for what they are and insist on their removal. Our society can't continue to be held hostage by these paramilitary groups, enough is enough, people shouldn't have to live like this."

Alliance group leader on Belfast City Council, Michael Long said: "Totally ridiculous and time this shared housing scheme was stopped being the target for paramilitaries."

Back in 2017, several flags belonging to the loyalist paramilitary organisation were put up in the area and four Catholic families were forced to leave their homes due to UVF intimidation and threats.

The situation drew such severe condemnation from across the city that Northern Ireland's political leaders issued a joint statement calling for the threats to be lifted.

"We as political leaders condemn all forms of sectarianism, intolerance and threats of violence," the parties said.

"Four families have been forced to leave their homes in south Belfast. This is wrong. Any threat to these families should be lifted immediately.

"This situation runs absolutely contrary to the ethos under which the Cantrell Close development was created. Everyone has the right to live in a society without fear of intimidation and free from sectarianism."

Cantrell Close, just off the Ravenhill Road, was designed to be a flagship-cross community development as part of the Stormont Executive's Together Building United Communities programme.

The flags were later taken down, however last year new banners were erected depicting IRA atrocities, including the La Mon bombing, Bloody Friday and the Shankill and Enniskillen bombings.

John McLean, chief executive of Radius Housing, which manages the development, said at the time the imagery was not appropriate for a shared housing area.

"There was no consultation with the people who live in this area and the imagery used is not appropriate for a shared living scheme which is home to families from all backgrounds," he said.

"We strongly feel that this is not an appropriate way to display events of the past."

Belfast Telegraph

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