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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 July, 2004, 12:28 GMT 13:28 UK
Woman 'threatened over flag'
An SDLP councillor claims his elderly mother was threatened while confronting a gang erecting an Ulster flag outside her home in County Antrim.

Danny O'Connor, a member of the local District Policing Partnership, said his mother was taken to hospital following the confrontation.

He said police officers had assured him during a recent DPP meeting that the "intimidatory placing" of flags would not be tolerated in Larne.

The incident happened in the Craigyhill estate on Monday night.

Meanwhile, Mr O'Connor said the flag had still not been removed.

He said: "Late on Monday evening a group of known UDA men hung an Ulster flag on a pole directly in front of my house.

The SDLP will be demanding, both on the DPP and through our representatives on the Policing Board, that the PSNI live up to these assurances
Danny O'Connor
SDLP councillor

"When my mother challenged them, she was verbally abused and explicitly threatened with death.

"As a result she was taken to hospital on police advice, but the same patrol declined to do anything about the flag.

"This is directly contrary to assurances given to me in the presence of a fellow DPP member and other party representatives last week by the PSNI superintendent.

"He told us he would not tolerate any paramilitary flags, yet there is a UDA flag at the end of my street."

Mr O'Connor said as a member of the DPP he "must be able to rely on assurances of proper policing given me by senior officers".

"The SDLP will be demanding, both on the DPP and through our representatives on the Policing Board, that the PSNI live up to these assurances."

'No powers'

A PSNI spokesman said: "The police in Larne have worked extremely hard in the last number of months with community representatives from both sides of the community in an effort to resolve the flags issue. This situation is much improved on previous years.

"As recently as last week, Superintendent Tom Haylett, the DCU Commander in Larne, met with Mr O'Connor and others and advised them that where his officers came upon anyone erecting paramilitary flags positive action would be taken.

"This was not the case last night. Officers responded to an incident to find that an Ulster flag had been erected. Police have no powers to remove non-paramilitary flags.

"Many of the issues surrounding the flying of flags cannot be resolved by a policing solution. They can only be resolved by the whole community being prepared to work together to find an acceptable answer."




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