Anger as pub told to remove Northern Ireland flag or face being burned to the ground
As the Northern Ireland squad prepare for their first match in the Euro 2016 Championships, a bar in Newry has had to remove the Northern Ireland flag from its premises after receiving a threatening phone call.
To help patrons get into the spirit of the tournament which kicked off last night, the popular Brass Monkey bar in the Co Down city put up flags representing Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, Poland and the Czech Republic.
Later that day a threatening phone call ordered the management to take down the NI flag - or the premises would be burned to the ground.
Rather than single out Northern Ireland, the bar decided to take down all football-related flags.
The four flagpoles outside the bar were bare yesterday.
Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph last night, local UUP MLA Danny Kennedy said: "I am hugely disappointed that someone would pull such a stunt.
"It is not at all in the spirit of the Euros generally.
"All over the island, north and south, there has been widespread anticipation and enthusiasm at the success of the team.
"It's a sad reflection on the character of the person who has thought it necessary to issue this threat.
"It says much more about that individual than it does about genuine football fans and sports lovers," the MLA said.
"I was in Newry earlier today and purchased a NI team shirt in a local outfitters - and they are on sale side by side with Republic of Ireland shirts - so there's no issue, but there are petty-minded people everywhere."
The former Stormont Minister said the Brass Monkey is a well-respected bar and restaurant in the city, enjoyed by all sections of the community.
He added: "The owners have been placed in a very difficult situation .
"I don't blame them at all for the action they've taken.
"The blame rests squarely at the feet of those who thought this was an appropriate way to behave.
"Whoever is responsible for this threat needs to take a look at themselves and catch themselves on."
Brass Monkey boss Marie Therese McKenna could not be reached for comment last night.