UNION flags put up in Magherafelt to mark the Queen’s Jubilee will come down at a “convenient time”, the DUP chair of the local Council said today.
By Stanley Campbell
Councillor Paul McLean, responding to Sinn Fein demands to have the flags removed, pointed out that this was Her Majesty’s Jubilee Year “not day or two days”, and the flags were put up to mark this historic 12 months.
“I can assure everyone that as responsible unionists we will take the flags at a convenient time,” he added.
Sinn Fein councillors for Magherafelt, Catherine Elattar and Deborah Ni Shiadhail, said they have been pressing local councillors and the PSNI on the issue over the past number of weeks but find themselves frustrated by the lack of progress.
“It is time for unionist politicians and community leaders to step up and take responsibility for this issue. They claim that these flags are ‘jubilee flags’ and that no one appears to know who erected them, which I believe, frankly, is nonsense,” said Councillor Elattar.
“ It is totally irrelevant why these flags were erected, they are a blight on the town centre and an annoyance to many residents and visitors to the town.
“Sinn Fein have been calling for a civic forum, for quite some time, to discuss and resolve issues such as this and unionists have refused to come on board. They have a civic duty to represent all residents in the area and it’s time they did so.
“The PSNI also have questions to answer. When nationalists put up flags for Easter, individual commemorations or GAA matches, the police promptly appear and want the contact details of all those involved and reassurances of when the flags will be removed. So how is it, when questions are raised about who erected these flags, no information is forthcoming. Do they not do the same with the unionist community? If not, then there are serious questions that need to be answered as to why this is the case.”
“The behaviour of unionist political representatives and the PSNI on this issue leaves much to be desired and is a very telling sign of some serious issues that need to be discussed. This kind of intransigence on an issue that continuously arises and creates tension shows a lack of consideration and respect for the community here. I would like to applaud the nationalist and republican community for their patience on this issue and I hope that we see some movement on it in the very near future. Those responsible now need to show respect for their neighbours and their own flags by taking them down immediately.”