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Councillor backs flag offence call

(Keith Bourke, Irish News)

An SDLP representative has backed calls by police in the UK to make the burning of flags a criminal offence.

Police chiefs have urged the British government to make flag-burning a criminal offence, as part of a drive to crack down on extremists and others preaching violence and religious hate.

Ballymena councillor Declan O'Loan said he would like to see the proposals being discussed in Northern Ireland.

"When I heard of these proposals I took a great interest," he said.

"Flag-burning is a major issue in Northern Ireland and is particularly a cause for concern in Ballymena where there are incidents at parades all the time.

"This year we had that shocking incident where a burning flag insulting the memory of Michael McIlveen was put on top of a bonfire in Ahoghill," he said.

In July an Irish tricolour insulting the 15-year-old Catholic murder victim, who died in May, was burned.

"If a piece of legislation was to be introduced to Northern Ireland making flag-burning a criminal offence it would be something I would like to see at least being discussed," Mr O'Loan said.

Proposals also include action to ban demonstrators covering their faces and more powers to arrest those trying to inflame tensions.

They have been drawn up by Scotland Yard and submitted to the attorney general by Britain's most senior Muslim police chief, Assistant Commissioner Tariq Ghaffur.

November 3, 2006
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This article appeared first in the October 30, 2006 edition of the Irish News.


This article appears thanks to the Irish News. Subscribe to the Irish News



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