A flag of British Army’ murderous SAS unit, raised in Loughgall on the 25th anniversary of the ambush of eight IRA men in the village was designed to “intimidate and offend” people, a Sinn Fein assembly member has said.
The flag was hoisted on a telegraph pole outside Loughgall Football Club’s grounds on May 8.
The SAS shot dead eight IRA men and one civilian in Loughgall on May 8 1987 after an IRA unit launched an attack on the village’s RUC station.
Volunteers Declan Arthurs, Seamus Donnelly, Tony Gormley, Eugene Kelly, Paddy Kelly, Jim Lynagh, Padraig McKearney and Gerard O’Callaghan were members of the East Tyrone Brigade IRA.
The civilian, Anthony Hughes, was driving home with his brother Oliver when they got caught up in the middle of the ambush and were fired on by the SAS.
The flag put up on the pole this week reads SAS 9-0, in reference tothe death toll.
On Sunday of last week, May 6, the families of all nine men who died took part in a national commemoration. Over fifteen hundred marched from Galbally to the Republican Monument in Cappagh village, where family members recalled their loved ones as well as the sacrifice of Tyrone’s fallen.
It is thought the flag may have been some form of loyalist protest over that commemoration.
Sinn Fein assembly member for Newry and Armagh, Cathal Boylan, said people have told him of their “shock and revulsion” at the message sent by the flag, which bears the SAS insignia.
“This flag has caused great offence and distress to the families of nine men killed in a most vicious manner,” he said.
FRAZER SEES RED
Meanwhile, three international flags seen flying over St Patrick’s primary school in nearby Donaghmore provoked a bizarre response from well-known anti-republican lobbyist Willie Frazer.
The flags of Italy, Turkey and Poland had been raised to mark mark a visit of teachers from those countries to the County Tyrone school this week.
On seeing the flags, Frazer declared the school to be “the junior headquarters of IRA youth” after he mistook the Italian flag for an Irish one.
The Italian tricolour differs from the Irish only by its final vertical stripe, which is red rather than orange.
Frazer wrote in an internet post: “I wounder do they also train the children in how to use weapons, for it seems they can do what they wont. [sic]”
Frazer’s FAIR organisation has been allocated over a million euro in European Union peace grants in recent years, although some of these grants have since been revoked.