Alliance Party Justice Spokesperson, Councillor Stephen Farry, has expressed amazement that the UUP Chief Whip has attacked Professor Ronald Goldstock for highlighting the need to tackle the paramilitary symbols that proliferate in many areas of Northern Ireland.
Cllr Farry stated: “I am stunned that Roy Begg’s is so dismissive of the need to tackle paramilitary flags and other markings. One wonders if the UUP are really in touch with what is happening in some of our communities.
“Far too many areas are under the thumb of paramilitary organisations. The feeling of intimidation created by paramilitary flags, murals and graffiti is real and tangible. There is rarely much support for such symbols, but people feel unable to speak out against them – such is the fear. Far too many UUP representatives have failed to speak out on this issue.
“A zero-tolerance approach to issues that reduce the quality of life in our estates, such as flags and graffiti, would remove part of the problem by taking away the most visible part of the paramilitaries’ unjustifiable claim to territory. In turn, this helps undermine the basis for more serious offences. Paramilitary murals and kerb paintings are being removed on the Shankill even as we speak, yet Mr Beggs would defend the indefensible.
“By constantly focusing on IRA decommissioning, and taking its eye off other paramilitary activity, the UUP has failed to deal with the paramilitary problem completely.