Loyalists use marching season to claim territory

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In a major campaign of loyalist intimidation, flags have appeared all over towns and cities in the north of Ireland, three to a lamppost in many places.

So-called shared spaces have been targeted for military and paramilitary flags and the painting of kerbs red, white and blue ahead of the height of the Protestant marching season on Monday.

Both the PSNI and the Stormont administration have failed to respond to appeals to take action against the territorial push by the loyalist gangs.

A UDA paramilitary flag was put up outside council offices in Limavady, County Derry, and council staff who tried to remove it were subjected to intimidation from “sinister elements,” according to the deputy mayor.

Loyalist flags have also appeared on a very mixed part of Saintfield Road in south Belfast for the first time. Residents said it is the first time flags - which they said included British Army Parachute Regiment and paramilitary flags - have been erected there.

Flags also appeared in the Four Winds area of Castlereagh for the first time in more than a decade. Sinn Fein councillor Ryan Carlin said there was a “massive backlash” against the flags going up, adding that there was “zero support” from the local community.

Over the last month, UDA and UVF flags have been appearing on lampposts in Ballyhalbert, County Down, to the disgust of locals. On some lampposts, five flags fly including one with images of two armed and masked men with the words: ‘When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty’.

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