Flying Parachute Regiment flags 'a hate crime', says Bloody Sunday relative
Parachute Regiment flags erected in Co Londonderry ahead of the anniversary of Bloody Sunday have been branded provocative, disrespectful and hurtful to families of the victims.
They appear every year in the village of Newbuildings in the run-up to the anniversary of the killings.
Thirteen people died after members of the Parachute Regiment opened fire on civil rights demonstrators. A 14th person died later.
Kate Nash's brother, William, was among those killed on January 30, 1972. Her father, meanwhile, was among 28 people shot.
Ms Nash said that she considered the flying of the flags a hate crime.
"This has become a regular feature for some people in Newbuildings, Drumahoe and in some parts of the Waterside, but I cannot understand why we are forced to put up with this year in and year out because to me this is a hate crime," she said.
"While I know the vast majority of people in those communities don't support these flags flying, the actions of the small number who do this are hurtful, and it is awful that some people seek to glorify the soldiers who carried out Bloody Sunday in such a public way."
Sinn Fein councillor Christopher Jackson called on unionist politicians to get the flags removed.
"Given the brutal history of the Parachute Regiment in this city, the erection of these flags is provocative and disrespectful and clearly designed to hurt the families who had loved ones murdered and injured on Bloody Sunday," he said.
DUP MLA Gary Middleton said: "This is not the first time such flags have been erected, including in response to other events around bonfires or parades in the city. We must all work to reduce and de-escalate tensions in our community.
PSNI Superintendent Gordon McCalmont said: "We fully understand the difficulties the flying of flags can cause across our community.
"It is our experience that these issues are best resolved through engagement and meaningful dialogue between local people and their representatives.
"The police service are supporters of such arrangements."