31 March 2006

'We won't tolerate abuse of tricolour' - Derry Republicans

Derry Journal

31 March 2006

REPUBLICANS IN Derry have warned they will not tolerate the erection of the Irish tricolour to promote sectarianism in the city.
The statement was issued following the erection of the Irish national flag near interface areas in recent weeks.
Speaking on behalf of the 'Derry republican family', Derry City Councillor Peter Anderson hit out at the "willy nilly" erection of flags in acts of hatred as an abuse of the tricolour and all it stands for.
"People putting up flags on every flagpole at interface zones and painting kerbstones green white and gold is an absolute disgrace," he told the 'Journal'.
"Republicans are probably guilty of it in the past but after all these years we realise that it is not the way forward.
"Our flag has been used in recent weeks near interface areas as a means of promoting sectarianism - something the republican family in Derry will not tolerate and we are working tirelessly towards convincing the misguided individuals involved that they should desist from it."
He added that in relation to flags and emblems the Good Friday Agreement was very clear.
"It demanded that symbols and emblems are used in a manner which promotes mutual respect rather than division.
"It is our view that all flags should be flown on proper flagpoles and displayed only on dates to mark significant historical occasions and cultural events of local and national interest."
The comments were made after a number of complaints to Sinn Fein in the city about the activity.
In one particular incident in the Bogside's Westland Street, a car carrying an elderly person narrowly escaped being hit when a large lump of wood - heavily studded with nails and being used to fly a tricolour - came loose from a telegraph pole and plummeted to the ground.
"Luckily for this elderly member of our community the large piece of wood missed," said Colr. Anderson.
Senior Derry republicans have hit out at the "inappropriate" manner in which the Irish tricolour is erected and left to deteriorate into rags, the councillor explained.
"It is neither environmentally friendly, nor a dignified means of expressing national identity."
He said that, as the 90th anniversary of the Easter Rising approaches, republicans are "mindful" that young people might believe that erecting flags is the right thing to do to commemorate the event.
But he added: "Erecting flags is only one of the many ways we now have to remind us of the sacrifices of the past, but abusing our national flag by hanging it on any old lamp post should now be left in the past.
Sinn Fein have recommended the approach taken by residents of Mullaghmore, Co. Tyrone as "the way forward".
The majority of residents there came to agreement that communities and groups wishing to hoist the national flag should take the time to do a "befitting job" by erecting proper flagpoles in central, specially constructed areas.
"Good leadership was shown by consulting with other estates in their area and coming up with an alternative way of fostering greater respect for our national flag and other symbols of our Irish identity," Colr. Anderson said.

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