Belfast Telegraph

Orange lodge Union flag replaced with Irish tricolour - 'sectarian hate crime,' say police

A Union flag was stolen from Ballintoy Orange Lodge and replaced with an Irish tricolour.
A Union flag was stolen from Ballintoy Orange Lodge and replaced with an Irish tricolour.

Police are treating as a "sectarian hate crime" the theft of a Union flag and it being replaced with an Irish tricolour at a Co Antrim Orange hall.

The flag was found to have been taken on the morning of the Twelfth at Ballintoy Orange lodge.

The UUP MLA Doug Beattie said he had appealed for Irish flags not to be placed on bonfires as it was "disrespectful".

"This is as equally disrespectful and used to antagonise in the same manner as burning it," he said.

"People need to call this behaviour out."

A lodge spokesman told the News Letter members were disappointed with the "attack" given the promotion it had done for tourism on the north coast. It called on politicians from all sides to condemn the incident.

The TUV leader Jim Allister asked if the police had any interest or were "too busy worrying about ‘Soldier F’ banners?"

Police said they were investigating.

Inspector Colin Shaw said: “At around 8.25am on Friday July 12, it was reported to police that a flag had been stolen from the property sometime between 9.30pm on Thursday July 11 and 8.20am on Friday July 12. The flag was replaced by a tricolour during the incident.

“Enquiries are continuing and the incident is being treated as a sectarian motivated hate crime at this stage.

“We would appeal to anyone who witnessed anything suspicious in the area at the time of the incident to contact police on 101, quoting reference number 721 12/7/19. Alternatively, information can also be provided to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 which is 100% anonymous and gives people the power to speak up and stop crime.”

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