Alliance reps express disbelief after infrastructure admits department has not removed any flags in 5 years

Alliance representatives have expressed their disbelief after the Infrastructure Minister admitted his department had not removed any unauthorised flags from street furniture over the past five years.

Paula Bradshaw Connie Egan Infrastructure
John O’Dowd was answering a question from Alliance North Down MLA Connie Egan. He stated with an exception of ‘a few banners which presented a danger to road users,’ no flags had been removed from street furniture in the period, despite it being an offence to attach them to structures such as lamp posts.
Ms Egan, Deputy Chair of the Assembly’s Executive Office Committee, said the ongoing failure to remove unauthorised flags and emblems, particularly those in breach of the Terrorism Act, cannot be allowed to continue.
“Unfortunately the Department for Infrastructure’s response to my question demonstrates the ongoing failure of the authorities to confront the placement of unauthorised and unwanted flags on public property. This is plainly illegal and is dealt with properly in neighbouring jurisdictions,” she said.
“This is hard to believe, especially as there is now a specific reporting system with a dedicated phone number. Many of the flags reported will be those glorifying so-called paramilitary groups in defiance of the Terrorism Act 2000. We cannot continue to have entire communities held to ransom in this way.
“When the Department talks about a unified approach, it should not be difficult for the First and deputy First Minister to agree one which ensures the defacing of public property in contravention of that Act is dealt with swiftly.”
Fellow Alliance MLA and Executive Office Committee Chair Paula Bradshaw MLA said public sentiment wanted such flags removed.
“People are fed up with entire areas being defaced for months at a time by flags and emblems being placed without authorisation on public property. We are long past time for action on the placement in particular of symbols contrary to the Terrorism Act.
“We expect to see the First and deputy First Minister leading on this issue. They will be aware if they do not, it is our intention to pursue a Private Member’s Bill to ensure the interests of the law-abiding majority across the community who want nothing to do with such symbolism are rightly prioritised.”