Flags and murals are a local issue, insist Giro d’Italia organisers

A UVF mural in Belfast.
A UVF mural in Belfast.

The organisers of the Giro d’Italia have chosen to stay out of the row over whether flags and paramilitary murals should be removed from the race route for its Northern Ireland stages.

Alliance MLA and Euro election candidate Anna Lo last week called for flags and murals to be removed so that the Province presents a positive face to the world.

However, the DUP said that removing flags from the route was unnecessary and divisive.

The Italian race — which on May 9 will have its Grande Partenza (big start) in Northern Ireland — is organised by RCS Sport. A spokesman for the company said: “It is our view that these issues should be decided locally.

“Our primary concern is safety along the route and we have every confidence in the advice of the local authorities with whom we are in regular contact.

“Every time we have visited Northern Ireland to prepare for the Grande Partenza we have received a wonderful welcome and we are looking forward to working together to deliver a fantastic international event in May.

“This is the RCS Sport official position.”

Day one of the Giro d’Italia will see cyclists start at Titanic Belfast and head to Stormont before returning back into the city to finish at the City Hall.

The second day’s 135-mile race takes in Antrim, Ballymena, Bushmills and the coast road from Cushendall to Carrickfergus, before returning to Belfast. The third and final NI stage is a cross-border race from Armagh to Dublin.