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Concern over ‘proliferation of flags’ in mixed housing developments and call for ‘neutral’ town centres

Concerns have been raised over what has been described as the “proliferation of flags” in mixed housing developments in Upper Bann.

Residents in several housing estates in Portadown and Lurgan have raised concern over the erection of Union flags.

Sinn Féin MLA John O’Dowd said it’s an issue his office has been dealing with in recent weeks, having received a number of complaints.

“Residents from across Communities have informed me they don’t want or support such displays,” said Mr O’Dowd.

“The use of flags etc to mark out territory is nothing new but there appears to be attempts to intimidate catholic families from certain areas by the use of flags and other displays.

“The police must investigate the motivation of such displays rather than simply saying it’s a community matter or it’s someone else’s problem. Intimidation is a policing matter.”

It comes as Sinn Féin look set to bring forward a council motion on neutral town centre’s.

Sinn Féin group leader, Councillor Liam Mackle, stated: “We have been contacted by businesses concerned about the impact of flags and banners marking out territory in our town centres.

“Retailers are trying to rebuild after the pandemic and these displays deter people from using our town centres.

“Town centres should be free from intimidation of this type and be places that all people can feel welcome and want to shop in.

“Government agencies, including the police, need to step up and help our businesses.Town centres should be neutral spaces.”

Do you agree? Let us know in the comments below.

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