IRA atrocity banners at mixed housing estate should go, says housing body

IRA atrocity banners erected close to a mixed housing estate in south Belfast should be removed, the housing authority behind the scheme said.

New loyalist posters highlighted the republican Kingsmill shootings of 10 Protestant workmen in Co Armagh in 1976 and the 1987 Enniskillen Poppy Day blast.

They were attached to lampposts off Ravenhill Avenue and included the hashtag "Stand up against sectarianism", a slogan used by Sinn Fein last year.

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John McLean, chief executive of Radius Housing which overseas the development, said: "These banners should not have been erected and should be removed immediately.

"There was no consultation with the people who live in this area and the imagery used is not appropriate for a shared living scheme which is home to families from all backgrounds.

"We strongly feel that this is not an appropriate way to display events of the past."

The organisation contacted the PSNI and politicians about signs which referred to a number of republican attacks during the conflict, including the IRA's Shankill bombing in 1993 which killed nine innocent victims.

Mr McLean added: "Our staff have been on site to ensure that everyone can enjoy living in their homes and local community without any type of intimidation.

"Our prime concern is the welfare of the people who live in Cantrell Close and Global Crescent, and they should not be the focus of a wider political debate."

Last year four Catholic families in Cantrell Close left their homes due to sectarian threats.

Last month loyalist flags in the area were removed.

Sinn Fein Assembly member Mairtin O Muilleoir said it was no coincidence that loyalists were targeting the shared housing schemes at Cantrell and Global.

"Theirs is the politics of division and subtraction.

"However, they cannot be allowed to defeat the vast majority of the people of Belfast who believe in the politics of addition and multiplication."

SDLP Assembly member Claire Hanna said the atrocities depicted were appalling, sectarian and unjustifiable, but these banners were designed to achieve nothing more than stirring up tension and intimidating residents.

"In a grotesque irony, those who erected these banners also put up UVF flags on all routes to these housing developments and have taken no opportunity to condemn the UVF's numerous appalling, sectarian and unjustifiable murders.

"Victims of any background deserve more than being used as pawns for one set of paramilitary apologists to score points off another."

DUP South Belfast MP Emma Little-Pengelly has been involved in efforts to defuse tensions in the area.

The DUP has also in the past called for threats against Catholics in the area to be lifted.