Northern Ireland

Emma Little Pengelly sees no demand to remove UVF flags

Emma Little Pengelly
Image caption Emma Little Pengelly became the new MP for South Belfast earlier this month

A DUP MP has said she has found no widespread demands for the removal of flags from a mixed housing development in her South Belfast constituency.

Union flags and and Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) flags are flying in Global Crescent and Cantrell Close.

The housing developments are part of the Together Building United Communities programme.

DUP MP Emma Little Pengelly said she had visited about 100 homes and found mixed views among residents.

But a DUP spokesman said earlier flags or any other emblems supporting paramilitaries had no place in communities and should all be all removed.

"Paramilitaries are a plague on society," the spokesman told the BBC's Nolan Show. "The DUP condemns all those who cling to criminality and violence."

The Police Service of Northern Ireland said removing flags was not its responsibility, and police would only act to remove flags where there were "substantial risks to public safety".

"We will work with local communities and respond to any issues where there is a concern for public safety or where it is believed a criminal offence has occurred," said the PSNI in a statement.

'Public fuss'

Mrs Little Pengelly spent a number of hours going door-to-door to meet local residents on Monday evening, and afterwards spoke to the BBC.

"There were some people who were very supportive of the flags, people who felt very much it was part of the tradition of the local area and the wider area," she said.

"The majority of people said to me: 'We understand that the flags have gone up, but we also understand that they will come back down again'.

"Really they didn't want a public fuss around this matter," she added.

"And there were some who had concerns around this, who would prefer for the flags not to be there.

"The way I would put this is that it was a much more complex picture than I was imagining.

"There were some concerns raised, I reassured those individuals that I would be here to support them as well, I would represent their views to the housing association."

The housing developments are near the Ravenhill and Cregagh roads, which border the South Belfast and East Belfast constituencies.

Mrs Little Pengelly became the new MP for South Belfast earlier this month.

Alliance MLA Paula Bradshaw said it was "almost beyond belief" that Mrs Little Pengelly believes there was no widespread demand for removal of flags from a mixed housing development in the area.

"A shared community should be welcoming to all and intimidating to none," she said.