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Loyalist flag protocol ‘cold comfort’ for Ballynafeigh residents

South Belfast Sinn Féin MLA Máirtín Ó Muilleoir South Belfast Sinn Féin MLA Máirtín Ó Muilleoir
By Conor McParland

SOUTH Belfast Sinn Féin MLA Máirtín Ó Muilleoir has described a new loyalist flag protocol as “no comfort” for Ballynafeigh residents.
Tuesday’s move will limit the number of flags on the Ormeau Road and the length of time they are in place.
The protocol also states that no flags linked to paramilitary groups will be flown and that flags will be displayed from the middle of June until early September, with one flag to be flown on each lamp-post.
Mr Ó Muilleoir said: “News of another loyalist protocol for flag displays in Ballynafeigh will bring no comfort to those who wish to see an end to the use of flags to harass and intimidate the majority nationalist community in the district.
“Any proposals for flag protocols should be made through the Commission for Flags, Identity, Culture and Tradition so that all sections of society can have their say.
“The vast majority of the people of Ballynafeigh, regardless of their identity or background, do not want to see their neighbourhood bedecked in union flags by faceless men for the entirety of the summer period.
“The demand for an area free of paramilitary intimidation and flag-waving should be respected.”
DUP MLA Christopher Stalford meanwhile welcomed the initiative.
“The work that I and others have engaged in regarding the issue of flags is designed to move things forward on the Ormeau Road,” he said.
“I hope it will be seen as such, it is about allowing people who have lived there all their lives to celebrate who and what they are in a respectful way.”
Alliance councillor Emmet McDonough-Brown descrived the protocol as a “slap in the face to Ormeau residents and something which does nothing to build community in our shared space”.
SDLP South Belfast MLA Claire Hanna added that the flags issue “won’t be solved overnight”.

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