Appearance of Ku Klux Klan flag in Belfast widely condemned

Flag removed from east of city as Peter Robinson describes those behind it as ‘idiots’

KKK flag pictured in east Belfast. Photograph: Smc/Twitter

KKK flag pictured in east Belfast. Photograph: Smc/Twitter

Wed, Jul 2, 2014, 09:54

The erection in east Belfast of a flag representing the racist group Ku Klux Klan this week has been widely condemned by Northern Ireland’s politicians.

“It’s absolutely outrageous. How some local idiot puts up a flag and gets a reputation of the area,” Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson said. “This does not represent the people of east Belfast. It does not represent the unionist or loyalist community,” he told UTV.

The blue New Order Knights flag was erected on a lamp post off Island Street on Monday . It was emblazoned with the words Ku Klux Klan and has an Aryan eagle and a red KKK cross logo. The flag was reported to the PSNI and was removed yesterday.

It is erected in an area of the city in which racist incidents have recently taken place.

East Belfast Alliance MP Naomi Long said the flag added an “an even more sinister edge” to recent events. She reported the flag to police after complaints from locals, she said in a statement.

“Yet again we see those who wish to bully anyone different from them use flags and emblems to assert dominance and control over a community,” she said. To put such flags in broad daylight showed how “brazen” the culprits were, she said. She described the use of flags hailing a “hate group” such as the KKK as “sickening”.

She said political talks this week needed to “ stop ducking the issue of the use and abuse of flags and emblems for the purposes of intimidation”.

Local Sinn Féin councillor Niall Ó Donnghaile welcomed the removal of the flag “We cannot allow the conditions to exist for people and organisations with clearly racist motivations to believe that it is ok to fly this flag from a public place,” he said.

Flying of a flag of such a racists organisation is “all the more sinister given the spate of recent racist attacks and intimidation against families in this part of the city,” he said.

Sinn Féin’s Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said there could be “no place” in the North’s society for “racists, racism or sectarianism”.