Belfast Telegraph

DUP's Gregory Campbell urges police action over Coleraine tricolours

By Claire Williamson

The PSNI has been urged to act in a bid to prevent a "breach of the peace" after tricolours were erected in Coleraine town centre.

The flags were put up in the town centre at the Bridge and in the nearby Waterside area on Wednesday night and in the early hours of Thursday morning.

DUP MP Gregory Campbell said the erection of the flags has the potential to cause a breach of the peace over St Patrick's weekend festivities.

A loyalist parade is taking place in the town on Friday evening and  Mr Campbell has called upon the police to take steps to make sure the "provocative actions" don't cause tensions to rise.

He said: "For some time there has been a small number of people engaging in anti-social activities in a nearby estate and on previous occasions some of the same people have been responsible for the erection of flags in and around that mixed estate.

"On this occasion some of the flags have been erected on the Bridge at the Town Centre, this could potentially cause a breach of the peace as there are a number of festivities and celebrations over the weekend in Coleraine Town Centre.

"Some nationalists and republicans repeatedly call for St Patrick's Day to be celebrated by a wider section of the community so hopefully they will take steps to get these flags removed and reduce tensions.

"The police need to take steps in conjunction with more responsible people within the community to ensure that a Breach of the Peace does not occur as tensions are rising already in the Town." 

SDLP MLA John Dallat condemned the flying of the flags and said people wanted to live in a "neutral society where people are encouraged to build relationships rather than destroy them".

He said: "The flags erected in Coleraine are not about sharing a common cause, showing solidarity or sharing the feast of Saint Patrick collectively.

"They are the opposite side of the coin when at other times of the year different flags proliferate the environment conveying the notion that this is a divided society when the truth is that so much has been done to heal the hurts of the past and respect difference.

"Where flags are deemed appropriate they should be erected at dawn and taken down at nightfall and never attached to lamp posts, otherwise those who put them up are showing nothing but disrespect and that applies to all flags. In no circumstances should paramilitary flags be allowed to remain.

"Most people want to live in a neutral society where people are encouraged to build relationships rather than destroy them."

Police are aware of the flags being erected.

Inspector Colin Reeves said: “Police received a number of reports about the erection of flags in the Waterside area of Coleraine on the evening of Wednesday 15 / Thursday 16 March.

"Officers continue to work closely with community representatives to resolve the issues associated with flags in the area and find acceptable solutions.”

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