Belfast Telegraph

Brother of Bloody Sunday victim backs action over Para banners

Distress: John McKinney
Distress: John McKinney
Donna Deeney

By Donna Deeney

The brother of a man allegedly murdered by a former paratrooper on Bloody Sunday has welcomed Derry City and Strabane District Council's support for legal action to ensure the removal of banners in support of the soldier.

John McKinney, whose brother William is one of two people Soldier F is to be charged with murdering, said the inaction of the Department for Infrastructure (DfI) to remove banners and Parachute Regiment flags is causing distress to his family.

Mr McKinney was in the public gallery where a motion proposing that the local authority supports Belfast City Council's decision to take legal action against the DfI to enforce the removal of the banners.

Speaking afterwards, Mr McKinney told the Belfast Telegraph the department must take down the banners immediately.

He said: "As a family we have been relatively quiet about the appearance of these banners and Parachute Regiment flags but it has been extremely hurtful.

"It is utterly disgusting and I am calling on the Department for Infrastructure to take them down as a matter of urgency."

Sinn Fein councillor Michael Cooper, who proposed the motion, said the banners are being "used to divide, offend and cause hurt".

He added: "We cannot allow those that set out to divide and promote hate continue these actions. We should stand together. We shall do our best to make Derry and Strabane an inclusive council area for all."

However, the DUP and Ulster Unionists opposed the motion.

UUP councillor Derek Hussey said by supporting Belfast City Council in its action, a "Pandora's box" could be opened which could undo agreements reached in Derry and Strabane about the flying of flags.

He said: "I believe there will be repercussions if we support this motions."

DfI said it will remove flags where there is community support, so long as staff safety is not compromised.

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