East Belfast Alliance Councillor Naomi Long has called for paramilitary organisations to remove Confederate flags that have been illegally erected on lampposts in parts of east Belfast. Cllr Long said that a number of Confederate flags – often associated with racism in the USA – have joined illegal displays of paramilitary flags in the area.
Cllr Long said: “I am calling for the removal of all paramilitary flags from lampposts, as I believe that they are simply put there to intimidate communities.
“The erection of Confederate flags, often associated with racist right-wing movements in the USA, alongside loyalist paramilitary flags is a worrying development. Given the recent increase in racist attacks, especially in Belfast and Craigavon, I think that paramilitaries must act now to remove these flags, to reassure members of ethnic minorities that they are welcome here.
“After recent statements from the PUP and UPRG calling for an end to racist attacks, I would encourage them now to press for the removal of Confederate flags in order to demonstrate their opposition in a tangible way.
“Alliance has been campaigning for the introduction of Hate Crimes legislation for a number of years in order to tackle the growing problem of racism more effectively. We are also calling for tougher measures to be introduced to tackle the flying of paramilitary flags, as we believe that, like racism, sectarianism is a destructive, divisive and evil influence in our society. It is time that those behind these flags were prosecuted.”
Confederate flags are flying at the junction of Ladas Drive and Castlereagh Road and on the Upper Newtownards Road at Ballybeen.