Time for offensive flags frenzy to end: once and for all

Paramilitary flags, emblems and graffiti continue to dominate lamp-posts and gable walls in many areas across the country.

It’s a case of marking out territory and, unfortunately, sending out the blatant message that certain parts of our community are the exclusive preserve of one side or the other.

What must tourists and potential investors think when they see our society divided up in this way?

These type of flags, murals and graffiti - much of it of a decidedly sinister nature - are the physical manifestation of the sickening sectarianism and segregation that pervade our society and a sign that paramilitary groups have entire areas in their sights.

Many people are understandably offended and outraged by the continued usage of flags and emblems on public property by paramilitary organisations.

However, many residents are too frightened to complain to the authorities because of the threat of being targeted.

Indeed, staffs of government agencies feel powerless to do anything about the paramilitary paraphernalia.

While many people may see the artistic talent in many of the works on gable walls, murals depicting guns and those which bear the initials of paramilitary organisations are totally unacceptable.

Tattered flags - both of a loyalist and republican persuasion - left flying throughout the year are nothing but an eyesore.

While there are no easy answers to the issue, we need to recognise that there is a serious problem and face up to it rather than run away from it.