Belfast Telegraph

Loyalist group calls for Christmas tree to be taken down after Union flags removed in Magherafelt

A dispute which started with the removal of Union flags from the centre of Magherafelt has seen a complaint made requesting the town's Christmas tree be taken down.

Loyalist group the British Truth Forum has complained to the Mid Ulster District Council and the PSNI about the tree, which is located on the town's Broad Street.

The tree is an annual feature, and this year's event for switching on its lights is set to take place on Saturday evening.

Speaking to the Irish News, the British Truth Forum's chairman William Lennox said the complaint had been made as there are "Muslims in the town and a lot of non-Christians" who could be offended by the tree.

"If the council says our Union flag offends people then the Christmas tree has offended people.

"The council has to stick to their policies," he said.

Last year a row broke out after a Union flag and pole - understood to have been erected by the Orange Order 65 years ago - were removed by the Council as part of public works.

In February, the British Truth Forum replaced the flag and pole, but this was subsequently taken down.

A public art piece was placed on the location where the flag once stood.

In his letter to the Council, Mr Lennox says the tree should be subject to an equality impact assessment (EQIA) - which would allow for a consultation process to consider how to make a policy more inclusive if it is considered to have an adverse impact on a certain group.

In a statement, a spokeswoman for Mid Ulster District Council said: "We can confirm that a complaint has been received in relation to the Christmas Tree erected in Magherafelt Town Centre this week. We have initiated our complaints process and it will be dealt with in due course."

Belfast Telegraph Digital


From Belfast Telegraph