The front of a would-be mixed housing development has been blanketed with Irish flags in what one MLA described as an attempt at “laying claim” to the neighbourhood.
The area around the newly-built Felden housing scheme, on the boundary between Newtownabbey and north Belfast, has seen a massive stream of tricolours erected in recent days as the Easter Rising centenary nears.
They stretch from the heavily-trafficked Shore Road up the Mill Road to the Felden project – the entrance to which is now flanked by flags.
It was recently set up as a shared housing scheme, which aims to have no more than 70 per cent of residents drawn from any one side of the community.
It is surrounded by the republican-dominated Bawnmore and Longlands areas, and has repeatedly seen sectarian graffiti sprayed.
DUP MLA Nelson McCausland has appealed to republicans to just “leave it alone”.
It was put to him that many Union flags fly on main roads across the Province.
He said that while loyalist and republican areas do erect their own flags, Felden is “intended to be a mixed area”.
“It seems that republicans are determined to impose their political identity on the development,” he said.
“We have already had several instances of sectarian graffiti close to the estate and this is another example of the republican agenda.”
A republican parade is to take place through the area from 2.30pm on Saturday, and Mr McCausland said the bands involved are “closely associated” with Sinn Fein.
He called on the party’s representatives to get the flags directly outside the shared development taken down, adding: “The erection of a republican flag at the entrance to Felden and another at the sign advertising Felden were deliberate actions and will be interpreted as republicans laying claim to the estate.”
Previous graffiti daubed at the entrance to the Felden neighbourhood has included “Kill All Huns” and “No Prods in Felden”.
The area consists of 97 newly-built homes.
Just a short distance away in the Longlands, dissident republicans are suspected of having shot dead 36-year-old Danny McKay in 2012.
Sinn Fein was asked to respond, but did not do so.