PUP defends the flying of 'historic' UVF flags
Flags erected in Glengormley which commemorate the UVF will be taken down at the end of July, a loyalist community worker has said.
The flags provoked an angry response from some residents who said they tarnish the image of the area. Also fluttering are flags of the Young Citizen Volunteers, another group with paramilitary connotations.
A number of residents called for the flags to be taken down immediately and questioned whether they are legal given the association with the names of the UVF and YCV and murderous loyalist terror groups.
But PUP representative Phil Hamilton said the flags had been put up to honour those from across Ireland who lost their lives in the First World War. The Rathcoole community worker also said the flags will be taken down at the end of July.
“These flags are historic flags and do not represent any paramilitary organisation,” he said.
“I am willing to sit down with anyone to explain the history behind these flags.”
Mr Hamilton, an active member of the Rathcoole Friends of the Somme group, added: “The purple 36th Ulster Division flag is clearly marked and dated and commemorates the signing of the Ulster Covenant in 1912 and the early formation of the Ulster Volunteer Force.
"It also recognises the sacrifices of the men from all over Ireland who served during The Great War, particularly at the Battle of the Somme.
“This year is the 100th anniversary of the formation of the 14th Battalion of the Royal Irish Rifles — the Young Citizen Volunteers. The battalion had Protestants and Catholics in its ranks fighting side by side and the flag commemorates the sacrifices these men made.
"These flags certainly don’t represent any paramilitary organisation.”