HC Deb 26 July 1999 vol 336 cc16-7W
Mr. Corbyn

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if she will ask for a report from the Chief Constable of the RUC on the display of a UVF flag adjacent to the police check point on the Garvaghy Road, Portadown; and if she will make a statement. [91708]

Mr. Ingram

[holding answer 16 July 1999]: Since early 1999, many roads and streets in the Portadown area have become the focus for the erection of flags and emblems by respective communities. Complaints in respect of the erection of these have been registered by both communities.

Currently, police have powers to remove such flags or emblems only in circumstances wherein a breach of the peace is considered imminent. Outside of such circumstances, the matter of removal of the material rests with the proprietor or owner of the property in question.

Section 31 of the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act 1978 provides for an offence of displaying public support for a proscribed organisation. However the flag in question commemorates the formation of the original Ulster Volunteer Force in 1912, prior to the First World War, and therefore does not satisfy the necessary elements of this offence.