Links between local councils and loyalist paramilitary groups continue to grow with the erection in north Down of banners carrying the motto of infamous UDA death squads.
The banners have been erected on lampposts around the town of Holywood. They bear the ‘Quis Separabit’ slogan associated with the loyalist killer gangs of the ‘Ulster Defence Association’.
Ards and North Down Borough Council said the banners were a “positive alternative” to the usual paramilitary flags, which have been hoisted in other nearby towns, such as Banbridge.
It claimed no potential adverse impact was found in a consultation with the community, and admitted that it spent more than four thousand pounds on the flags, which they said were for a local flute band.
However, residents have said there is no justification for the banners and that the council should not have facilitated them.
“It’s a mixed area and they have no place,” said one resident, who did not want to give his name.
Meanwhile, a memorial to a senior UDA man has been built on public land in south Belfast.
Union flags and wreaths including some bearing UDA emblems were placed on the memorial during its unveiling on Sunday afternoon.
Posting a picture of the monument on its Facebook page, the Loyalist magazine wrote: “Lovely tribute to Colin and Stanley QS [Quis Separabit].”
The Housing Executive said it “did not give approval” for the memorial Earlier last week it described the event as the “official opening of a memorial garden”.
Nationalist SDLP councillor Donal Lyons criticised the construction of the memorial.
“The UDA is a proscribed terrorist organisation who committed hundreds of murders during and after the Troubles and 20 years on from the Good Friday Agreement they are still involved in criminality and terror,” he said.
“Every time they raise their ugly head without being challenged it erodes the confidence that people have in the rule of law and raises the worrying question of who is actually calling the shots.”