Belfast Telegraph

Bizarre objection to EU flag in Holywood

By Claire Williamson

It's the instantly recognisable flag that's been fluttering on the global stage in the past few days, but police and some residents in Holywood were left baffled as they failed to identify the European banner.

Police were called to a house in the Co Down town after they received a complaint about a resident flying a flag outside his house. World number one golfer Rory McIlroy was born and raised in Holywood.

The owner of the house had thrown a Ryder Cup party and flew the flag of Europe – an emblem for the EU – in support of Team Europe which Northern Ireland golfers Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell helped to victory. But he could hardly believe it when he opened the door to two police officers on Sunday morning. It transpired that the European flag had been misconstrued for an "Arabic flag".

He posted on Facebook: "Right in shock here. Had a Ryder Cup party yesterday and just had the police round... as apparently it's caused offence. Apparently person who complained thought it was an Arabic flag."

In a statement, the PSNI said: "Police in Holywood attended an address in the Woodlands area yesterday following the report from a member of the public that a flag they believed to be offensive had been erected.

"Police attended and no offence was detected."

The owner of the house, who did not wish to be named, said: "I was having a house-warming party and decided to put up the European flag for the Ryder Cup.

"I was tidying up on Sunday morning and two police officers arrived. They didn't seem to know what the flag was themselves.

"I said, 'It is a European Union flag for the Ryder Cup'. They said there'd been a complaint about it being some sort of Arabic flag.

"I just laughed. In the end they were laughing too."

Alliance councillor Andrew Muir said: "People are entitled to fly whatever legal flag they want and in Northern Ireland we need to be able to celebrate our success and the European flag is an open, inclusive symbol of Europe coming together."

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