Alliance justice spokesperson Stephen Farry has said that the Government has taken no action against anyone erecting paramilitary flags since at least 1998 despite a range of criminal law measures being available.
Cllr Farry was speaking in response to written answers provided to Liberal Democrat MP Lembit Opik by Security Minister Jane Kennedy in which she stated that no arrests had been made in the last five years against people suspected of erecting paramilitary flags.
Cllr Farry stated:
“Paramilitary flags scar many parts of Northern Ireland, marking out territory, deepening segregation and damaging community relations. There is mass outrage at the failure of the authorities to tackle this problem.”
“While there are no specific offences in relation to the erection of paramilitary flags or the painting of murals, it is clear that there are a wide range of existing criminal law measures that could be used against those erecting such materials.”
“These include the common law (breach of the peace), public order legislation, criminal damage legislation and creative use of the Terrorism Act (2000).”
“In the imminent review of criminal legislation to be conducted by the Attorney-General, consideration should be given to the creation of specific offences.”
“However, it is clear that if the police and prosecution service have the will to do something about this huge problem then they certainly have the means.”
“It is in this context, that the absence of arrests and prosecutions for these actions are particularly disappointing.”