A giant flag pole erected by loyalists in County Down could be used to fly the world’s largest Union Jack.
The flagpole towers over 30m over the village of Clough, midway between Downpatrick and Castlewellan. It is currently topped with a regular Union flag but there are fears it could be used to erect a record British flag to physically dominate a wide area.
Despite despoiling an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the local council have suggested there was nothing in their power to prevent it.
“The enormous flagpole in Clough is an eyesore,” South Down SDLP representative Colin McGrath said.
“The insistence of some to mark their territory in such an outlandish fashion does nothing for their cause but does create division and bitterness in its wake.
“I believe our future will be best served when we spend time talking and discuss our differences and preparing for our future - not erecting eyesores, ruining our natural beauty and creating community division.”
Mr McGrath said he was concerned that unless some form of enforcement action was taken it could become permanent.
A spokesperson for Newry, Mourne and Down District Council claimed express planning approval in “not required”. They said exceptions are made for the “national flag of any country”, provided it is displayed on a single flagpost and without advertising. It is understood there are no restrictions on size.
Meanwhile, the loyalist marching season drew to a close without incident last weekend.
The anti-Catholic ‘Royal Black Preceptory’, a secretive organisation senior to the Orange Order, marched as usual in weaponised suits involving bowler hats and swords.
Speaking in Bangor, ‘Sovereign Grand Master’ Reverend William Anderson claimed Brexit had breached the Acts of Union which declared Ireland to be under British Rule. He rejected both the Brexit deal and the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.
“The UK government has sole responsibility for its citizens throughout the UK, especially here in Northern Ireland,” he declared. “No part of that responsibility should be shared with any foreign power”.