PSNI approach to Ormeau flags issue ‘unacceptable’ – Ó Muilleoir
Sinn Féin South Belfast MLA, Mairtín Ó Muilleoir and Botanic Councillor, Deirdre Hargey, met this morning with senior PSNI following the erection of flags on the Ormeau Road last week.
Speaking after the meeting, Mairtín Ó Muilleoir said:
"I requested this meeting with senior PSNI officers immediately after flags had been erected without challenge by police on the Ormeau Road.
“This was a clear contradiction of the publicly stated position of the PSNI in 2014 when they determined they would treat any further erection of flags as a potential breach of the peace.
“In not acting to prevent a crowd of over 20 people who were clearly intent on using flags to mark out territory, the PSNI failed in their responsibility to the Ormeau community and in my view, reneged on previous commitments.
“We informed the PSNI of the deep anger and frustration which has been expressed to us by all sections of the Ormeau community, whether nationalist, unionist, resident or business owner.
“While we accept the need for an agreed protocol on the use of flags and emblems in public places, we also believe that in the absence of this the PSNI does have a pivotal role in preventing flags being used in such blatant acts of intimidation.
“From our discussion it is clear that the PSNI had engaged with a minority of the Ormeau community on this issue, that is those who were intent on erecting flags.
“Numerous residents’ representatives were not part of these engagements therefore the views of the wider community were neither sought nor obtained. This is an unacceptable approach.
“The PSNI have committed to ensuring they will consult wider within the Ormeau community. Sinn Féin will help to facilitate this engagement where possible.
“The Ormeau community has changed dramatically in recent years. That change must be recognised and accepted."