Last year a Belfast Community Newspaper published a letter claiming that Estate Agents calculated that the flying of flags in districts had the effect of depressing house values by between 8% and 20%.
The latter figure seems extreme but undoubtedly the erection of flags in housing areas will discourage, at least 50% of prospective purchasers leading to a reduction in a property’s investment potential.
The people erecting the flags are an apparently well-funded, well organised, anonymous body of men whose activities are carried out mainly at night in areas they themselves don’t live in.
Residents are not consulted and the flag erectors are indifferent to the consequences of their activities on the families whose assets they are devaluing.
An innocent view of their aims is that they are merely celebrating loyalist culture but a more plausible explanation is that is an assertion of territorial control which is intimidating.
People are free to fly flags from their houses should they choose to but it is intolerable and threatening to have it imposed and to see formerly mixed areas being potentially turned into loyalist estates.
Parts of my own area in north Belfast are seeing an insidious encroachment and it’s extraordinary that law-abiding and rate-paying citizens have no access to help from any public authority.
Nadine Holmes, Belfast BT14