Paramilitary flags ‘not erected by UVF’

The loyalist blogger and activist, Jamie Bryson.  Pic by Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker
The loyalist blogger and activist, Jamie Bryson. Pic by Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker

Paramilitary flags erected close to a mixed housing development in south Belfast were “not the work” of the UVF, loyalist blogger Jamie Bryson has said.

The flags were erected on Ravenhill Avenue on Wednesday near Cantrell Close, a shared development where four Catholic families fled their homes last year following sectarian threats.

Mr Bryson claimed the flags were removed within an hour of being put up on lampposts.

He said a group called the East Belfast Community Initiative (EBCI) has been “working closely with stakeholders” to look at a potential protocol for erecting flags.

He added that DUP MP for South Belfast Emma Little-Pengelly has been involved in these discussions.

In a post on Twitter, Ms Pengelly said: “As promised, I have been working over some considerable time to seek resolution to issues around flags, particularly in the Ravenhill Avenue area. I will continue this work.”

Speaking on BBC’s Talkback Show, Mr Bryson said it would be “ludicrous” for loyalists to “undermine their own good work” by erecting these flags, adding: “We have to question exactly who put these up and their motivation.”

He added:“It was made very clear that these flags were not erected by the UVF and, as a result of that, within an hour of the East Belfast Community Initiative becoming aware of this the flags have now been taken down.”

The erection of the flags were condemned by political representatives, with SDLP MLA Claire Hanna described them as “intimidatory and inexcusable”, while Alliance’s Paula Bradshaw said it was “illegal”.

Mr Bryson said the erection of the flags was an “attempt to undermine good work of loyalists in east Belfast”.

He added: “It is an attempt to target unionism and unseat the unionist MP in south Belfast.”