Dickson: Flags regularly used to mark out shared space

Alliance Social Development spokesperson Stewart Dickson MLA has criticised the appearance of flags at a shared housing project in Newtownabbey – adding the problem is growing on both sides of the political divide.

Speaking after Tricolour flags appeared at the scheme, the East Antrim MLA said in recent months flags have been used to mark out territory in both Unionist and Nationalist areas, where shared housing schemes are being developed.

Stewart Dickson MLA said: “This problem has not appeared overnight, with the act of using flags to intimidate others out of a shared space area becoming a regular sinister occurrence.

“While this site has caught the public’s attention today, in recent months I’ve held meetings with housing associations – including in the Belfast and Newtownabbey areas – in an attempt to tackle this issue. I applaud the work that the associations have put into addressing the problem, but more action is needed, including local political representatives recognising that emblems and flags do not belong in shared areas.

“While the housing associations and Housing Executive may recognise this serious problem, there is little that can be done when other political parties simple pay lip service to a shared future, rather than taking action to make it a reality.

“Shared space means just that – open to all sections of the community. But sadly until Unionists and Nationalists recognise this and are prepared to follow the Alliance Party’s lead, this culture of intimidation is set to continue.”

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