Loyalist flags scheme stemmed from threats
An initiative to remove loyalist flags from estates in Derry stemmed from unionist communities' fear of paramilitaries, an MLA has said.
DUP assemblyman William Hay made the comment as hundreds of loyalist flags were removed from loyalist areas of the city yesterday.
The move - which saw flags taken down and handed back to community leaders at the end of the marching season - is part of a new protocol agreed by the Ulster Political Research Group, the Progressive Unionist Party, and React North West. Mr. Hay said the new protocol was devised because "people were afraid to move on the flag issue".
"I have no doubt that the entire unionist community would have come to this decision much earlier if it were not for the loyalist paramilitary threats. They speak for nobody and they act for nobody, and they have very little credibility."
The only loyalist estates not to sign up for the initiative were The Fountain and Newbuildings.
However, Mr. Hay explained that the Waterside village has been operating a flag removal scheme for the past three years.
UPRG spokesman David Malcolm said: "I don't think it is anything malicious - it's not a case of refusal, more a case of a breakdown in communication."
He added that it was expected to have the "vast majority if not all" of the flags taken down by last night.
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Weather for Derry
Friday 24 May 2013
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