Northern Ireland

Ministry of Defence: Flags should only fly in 'official capacity'

Tandragee Soldier F banner
Image caption Flags have been erected in cities and towns including Belfast, Bangor, Carrickfergus, Coleraine and Portadown

The Ministry of Defence has spoken out against the unofficial flying of Army flags and emblems.

It comes in response to the number of Parachute Regiment flags being put up in unionist areas.

A spokesman said flags and emblems "should be used only in an official capacity".

It comes after criticism of the flags being flown by former Army captain Doug Beattie.

Flags and banners have been erected on lampposts and across streets in Northern Ireland.

They have appeared in a number of cities and towns including Belfast, Bangor, Carrickfergus, Coleraine and Portadown.

"Flags, emblems and associated regalia are an integral part of the unique identity and heritage of the many regiments and units that make up the British Armed Forces," said the Ministry of Defence spokesman.

"The MoD does not condone their misuse in any way."

'Nothing but antagonism'

Doug Beattie, who fought in the last Iraq war, said he was fully behind people showing support for the armed forces, but not in this way.

Mr Beattie, who is now an Ulster Unionist member of the NI Assembly, said he would "rather they show their support in a different way".

"Some people are putting these flags up at interface areas or in areas where they are nothing more than antagonistic," said Mr Beattie.

Image caption Doug Beattie said the flags are being erected in areas where they are "nothing more than antagonistic"

There are also banners showing support for Soldier F, the former paratrooper accused of killing two people on Bloody Sunday in 1972.

A number of victims groups have called for the police to take down the flags and banners, under hate-crime legislation.

A PSNI spokesperson said: "The removal of flags/banners is not the responsibility of the PSNI and police will only act to remove flags where there are substantial risks to public safety."

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