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Video: Unauthorised Union flag and pole removed from roundabout in Northern Ireland

By Allan Preston

A video has emerged showing the late night removal of an unauthorised Union flag and pole in Magherafelt town centre.

On Wednesday night, footage emerged on social media showing the flagpole, which is situated on a roundabout, being cut down.

Several men in high-visibility vests used an angle grinder to remove the flagpole and were accompanied by police officers during the work.

It is understood that the Orange Order erected a flagpole in the Diamond 65 years ago.

After its removal, a new pole was erected early yesterday morning by a group calling itself the British Truth Forum.

The group's spokesman, William Lennox, told the Mid Ulster Mail: "It was funded by victims, ex-veterans, members of the Orange Order and non-members of the Orange Order."

However, the Orange Order has denied any involvement with the flag's erection yesterday or removal.

Sinn Fein councillor Darren Totton told the newspaper earlier the flagpole was "a clear attempt by loyalists to attempt to sectarianise the election campaign".

He described it as "a clear attempt to distract attention" from the DUP's role in the RHI scandal.

Before the flag's removal, a spokesperson from Mid Ulster District Council had said: "An unauthorised flagpole has been erected at a site which is to hold a piece of public art.

"The council will seek to resolve the issue of the unauthorised structure at the location."

Police said they responded to reports of a number of people acting suspiciously at the roundabout in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

Officers are investigating as to whether any criminal offences have been committed or any other regulations were breached in the erection of the flagpole.

The video showing the removal of the flag and pole in Magherafelt

Police said that on Wednesday night after they were informed that the flagpole was being removed by "contractors employed by the council" they attended to ensure there was "no breach of the peace".

Superintendent Mike Baird said: “Police were informed last night, Wednesday 8 February, that contractors employed by the council were in the process of removing the flagpole. Police then attended the scene to ensure there was no breach of the peace whilst the flagpole was being removed.

"Any allegations made to police in regard to the flagpole will be investigated.”

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