Police were today quizzed over how a masked man, “in broad daylight was able to come into Armagh city centre and erect a banner”.
SDLP MLA for Newry and Armagh Justin McNulty met with Chief Inspector Barney O’Connor and Inspector Kieran Quinn and asked them how “PSNI stood at the bottom of the ladder and watched” in an incident he described as “totally unacceptable”.
Mr McNulty said the meeting over the erection of the Soldier F banner in Armagh last week follows representation he made to the PSNI and the Department for Infrastructure in recent weeks.
“Today’s meeting was an important way for us as political representatives to raise our concerns and the concerns of the entire community about the appearance of these banners in recent weeks.
“I have been contacted by residents from places like Markethill, Loughgall and Tnadragee who have serious concerns about the appearance of banners and flags in their areas.
“The representations were from right across our community and many people are also afraid to speak out in their own areas for fear of intimidation.”
He added: “Then, last week we had the incredible situation where the PSNI stood by whilst a masked man and his cohorts erected a banner in Armagh City.
“These events are disturbing. They are a deliberate attempt to heighten tensions in local communities and to drag people back to the past.
“What’s more, they seek to mark out territories as being for one section of our community or the other. This is wrong and I would appeal for common sense to prevail.”
Mr McNulty said the statutory agencies must step up and they must protect shared spaces.
“These incidents do nothing for community relations, our economy and for the atmosphere in areas in general,” he said.
“I pressed the PSNI as to how they let a situation develop where a masked man, in broad daylight was able to come into the city centre and erect a banner.
“To add to things, the PSNI stood at the bottom of the ladder and watched. This is totally unacceptable!
“In addition to the heightened tensions, the actions of the local police have only further dented confidence in the PSNI.
“This matter must be firmly addressed and I have sought assurances this it will be investigated in full.”