Mid Ulster DUP MLA Ian McCrea has hit out at those responsible for the theft of eight Union Flags in Cookstown on Sunday night.
Dubbing the culprits “mindless cowards” he suggested they get used to “Britishness” as “the union has never been stronger” and “they aren’t backward in accepting British currency”.
The flags were reported to have been taken from homes in the Stewart Avenue and Cooke Crescent area.
Police have been notified and are investigating the incident as a suspected hate crime and theft.
Ian McCrea said: “I am completely disgusted that mindless cowards took it upon themselves to target and rip down Union flags from homes in the Stewart Avenue and Cooke Crescent area.
“Of course they done [sic] it under the cover of darkness in order to stir up tensions on the build up to the Twelfth of July celebrations.
“I would urge the protestant community not to react as this is exactly what they want.
“Republicans would love nothing more than to have a reaction that they can use to further chip away at our culture,” he added.
“I would remind those responsible that although they are content to try and remove Britishness from society, their efforts are in vein as the union has never been stronger and they might as well get used to that fact, as I’m sure they aren’t backward in accepting British currency.
“Police are making enquiries and are treating this incident as a hate crime and I would implore anyone with information to bring it to the attention of the police so those responsible can be dealt with.”