Council bias ‘must be addressed’

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The discriminatory treatment of cultural symbols in rural areas of the north of Ireland continues as loyalist flags and emblems go untouched, while visible signs of Irish republicanism are often threatened and removed.

In the wake of the removal of a stone monument to mark the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising from the nationalist village of Carnlough in County Antrim, an Irish tricolour flag and pole have now had to be taken down after also being threatened by the local council.

The simple solitary Irish flag, originally put in place by the East Antrim Republican Research Group, had no paramilitary connection and caused no offence. But along the coast, loyalist flags continue to fly high.

In the nearby town of Larne, a preposterous 26ft steel ‘Jubilee Crown’ was erected illegally on public land near the busy seaport there five years ago, but still no action has been taken against it. There are also loyalist paramilitary memorials dotted throughout the Mid and East Antrim Council area.

Sinn Féin councillor James McKeown said the issue of flags and symbols across the district needs to be addressed.

“With the council demanding the removal of one flag in Carnlough it’s time they stepped up to the mark and did something about all the other flags and all the other murals throughout the borough,” he said.

In Newry, it was the police who directly removed a republican mural in the early hours of Sunday morning, November 15. The midnight operation contrasted sharply with the PSNI’s actions last summer in nearby Armagh, where they actually helped to erect offensive loyalist banners in support of a British soldier charged with murder.

Saoradh said it was clear that heavily armed members of the Crown Forces, “skulking under the cover of darkness, entered this proud, close-knit Republican community and attacked republicanism”.

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