Failure to deal with flags issue creating dangerous vacuum.
Speaking after the erection of yet more flags across mixed residential areas of South Belfast, Alex Maskey has slammed the lack of political will within unionism to deal with contentious issues.
Mr Maskey stated,
“Last night the Finaghy area became the latest community to be subjected to the erection of yet more flags. Over the past few days my office and my party colleague Máirtín Ó Muilleoir has again been inundated with complaints from residents about what they see as acts of intimidation in the erection of these flags.
“The Finaghy area, like other parts of South Belfast, is one, which has experienced significant shifts in demographics in recent years. At best, this factual reality is being ignored and at worst it has motivated sections within loyalism to attempt to intimidate what is a mixed identity community.
“These situations are being allowed to develop and fester due to the lack of political will within unionism to deal with contentious issues such as flags.
“The Haass process presented the greatest potential to date to deal with contentious issues but unfortunately unionism failed to sign up to the proposals.
“In the immediate future I will be again raising the flags issue in South Belfast directly with the PSNI.
“The annual raising of tensions through the erection of flags on lamp posts, particularly in mixed identity communities is unsustainable.
“However there can be no dodging these issues in the future. The political will must be created within unionism to find resolutions to contentious issues. The people who elect us to represent them expect and deserve no less.”