I haven’t discussed flag plan with David Ford, says Anna Lo

Giro d'Italia 2013
Giro d'Italia 2013

Anna Lo said that she has not discussed her proposals to remove flags from the route of the Giro D’Italia with her party leader.

On Monday, Ms Lo had proposed that flags and murals should be taken down from the course of the world-famous three-day cycle race, which is due to pass through Northern Ireland in May.

The Giro D’Italia route will take it past murals of loyalist paramilitary gunmen on the Newtownards Road in east Belfast and the Shore Road in the north of the city.

Alliance MLA Ms Lo suggested the PSNI could implement her proposal, which has been rejected by the DUP.

But asked by the News Letter if she had discussed the idea with the justice minister and Alliance chief David Ford, Ms Lo said: “No.”

She added the PSNI would be the “most natural” agency to enforce the law on flags and murals, but stressed they could only do so if they had widespread backing.

“Hanging up flags and banners on lamp posts is an illegal act,” she said. “If they have broken the law, then the police should be dealing with it with support from politicians, church leaders, community leaders and local residents.”

She said that she believed that all flags — from paramilitary emblems to Union Flags — should be removed from the route as they were being used to “mark out territory” and in many cases had become “tattered, worn and faded”, which she said was “no way to celebrate our culture”.

The DUP has highlighted how Italian flags and bunting mark some stages of the race in Italy and suggested that tourists would welcome a display of national flags.

But Ms Lo said that she had been at the final stage of the Tour de France in Paris several years ago where she had seen no flags on lamp posts.

“I was standing there for two hours and can’t recall a single flag being flown from a lamp post,” she said.