The 1916 Societies, a republican campaign group, has claimed responsibility for raising an Irish tricolour flag and the green ‘Irish Republic’ flag of Easter 1916 over the Stormont Assembly outside Belfast last week.
The move provoked a furious reaction from unionists, while some Sinn Fein staff welcomed the development and shared images of the incident on social media.
A statement posted on the 1916 Societies website said that members had taken “advantage of lax security at the Stormont Assembly in Belfast, accessed the roof of the building” to raise the flags.
“While only a symbolic gesture, nevertheless the actions concerned reflect the enduring reality that six Irish counties remain under foreign dominion, against the democratically-expressed wishes of the Irish people,” the group said.
“Our intent was to further awareness of this matter at a time when the normalisation agenda of the British state, aided by local proxies of various political hue, continues unabated in its drive to legitimise the continuing occupation of Ireland.”
Unionists expressed concern at the failure of security measures at Stormont as well as the failure to carry out an immediate sweep and lockdown of the building following the breach by so-called ‘dissidents’.
The 1916 Societies dismissed the furore among unionist politicians -- as well as complaints by some republicans that the action amounted to a desecration of the national flag.
“The Irish Flag at Stormont asserts that British rule is based on conquest, is without legitimacy, and usurps the sovereign will of the people,” the 1916 Societies said.
“Britain has no democratic title in Ireland and should withdraw, leaving the Irish people in peace to determine their own future, together and without external impediment.
“Until the day full freedom is restored and the Tricolour flown over All Ireland, the 1916 Societies will continue to highlight the undemocratic British presence in our country and resist all efforts to normalise that presence. British rule, no matter its guise, remains unacceptable and will always be thus.
“Actions such as last Wednesday’s, while only a small gesture, help empower that end. The work to achieve Irish freedom and a meaningful peace continues.”