09 July 2005

Loyalist 'Hardmen' Blamed For Limavady Road Flags

Derry Journal

Friday 8th July 2005

Loyalist 'HARDMEN' are being blamed for erecting "intimidating" Union and Ulster flags along a stretch of main road in Derry's Waterside.

Residents living in the mixed Limavady Road area are said to be furious at the proliferation of flags - including the Orange Order standard --close to their homes.

One resident, who asked not to be named, told the 'Journal' this week: "Homeowners, both Protestants and Catholic, are really angry at the erection of these flags.

"They send out the message that this area is controlled by loyalists --which couldn't be further from the truth.

"I know some people will say that they've been put up because the main county Orange parade is taking place in the city this year.

"That simply doesn't wash. In previous years, when Derry hosted the main parade, I cannot recall such a proliferation of flags on the Limavady Road.

"Indeed, it'll be interesting to see if the flags are removed once July 12 is over."

The resident also expressed concern at the "message" the flags send out to people visiting the city.

"For example, I know that some of the games in the Foyle Cup are being played at nearby St. Columb's Park - what must our international visitors being saying to themselves when they see this type of display?"

The homeowner also accused the authorities of "passing the buck" as regards the flags issue.

"It seems no-one is willing to accept responsibility for the erection of flags," he said.

"But, at the end of the day, someone must take charge of this - after all people are suffering as a result of this intimidating behaviour."

This week, police chiefs acknowledged that the display of flags was an "emotive" issue.

Assistant Chief Constable Duncan McCausland said: "The flying of flags is not a policing issue alone. The Police Service is just one of the partners involved in the protocol, signed earlier this year, designed to address the flying of flags.

"The responsibility to find a way forward lies with everyone --statutory agencies, elected and community representatives and the communities themselves."

Asst. Ch. Cons. McCausland said the display of flags to mark out geographical areas or to promote sectarianism or intimidation was "wholly unacceptable in a peaceful and tolerant society."

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