Belfast Telegraph

Policing partnership motion on banners divisive, claims DUP

Flags which have been placed at Caw roundabout in Londonderry
Flags which have been placed at Caw roundabout in Londonderry
Donna Deeney

By Donna Deeney

A vote by a Policing and Community Safety Partnership (PCSP) to describe the flying of flags, including those of the Parachute Regiment, as "inflammatory" has been criticised by the DUP.

Councillor Maurice Devenney, a DUP member of the Derry and Strabane PCSP, claimed yesterday that the partnership's actions could escalate tensions within the unionist community at this, the start of the marching season.

In recent weeks Parachute Regiment flags have appeared across Londonderry, including The Fountain and Newbuildings and most recently at Caw roundabout in the Waterside, as a show of support for a soldier from the regiment due to be charged in relation to Bloody Sunday.

SDLP Foyle MLA Mark H Durkan described them as a mockery of the bereavement of the families.

Other PCSP members had agreed the need to show leadership and voice its condemnation of the "inflammatory actions of a minority in our community".

PCSP chairperson Sinn Fein councillor Sandra Duffy said: "Members debated the impact of offensive actions aimed at provoking a reaction and causing distress.

"The PCSP agreed that the flying of Parachute Regiment flags and the burning of flags, emblems and poppy wreaths on bonfires is unacceptable.

"Our members, elected, independent and statutory, will continue to work toward the removal of this material from communities to create a shared and welcoming space for all."

She added: "The PCSP agreed that the only purpose of many of these actions is to cause offence and distress and advised that PCSP members would be doing everything they can to promote respect and restraint as we approach the summer period."

Mr Devenney insisted that those representing unionism "certainly did not endorse" the PCSP statement for a number of reasons - one of them being the timing.

"We are just at the mouth of the parading season and 10 days before the Twelfth, and the release of this statement at this time could exacerbate existing tensions," he told the Belfast Telegraph.

"When we go to the cityside and see all kinds of memorabilia to the IRA and placards calling for 'Brits out of Ireland' it doesn't make someone from my community feel comfortable.

"The statement went out because of a majority vote, but no one representing unionism supported it. Our voice isn't being heard on this," he added.

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