Belfast Telegraph

Rising sectarian tensions in Limavady as painted kerbs and flags mark out territory

By Donna Deeney

Unionist and nationalist politicians in Limavady have voiced concern about rising sectarian tensions in the town.

Loyalist paramilitary flags have been erected on lampposts and last week sectarian graffiti was daubed on St Mary's Catholic Church.

Tricolours have also appeared in nationalist areas, and in the latest development, kerb stones were painted green, white and orange.

Residents in both nationalist and loyalist areas are unhappy with the way territory was being marked.

Samuel Thompson, who lives just outside the town, said he had noticed an increase in the number of flags being put up.

He said: "I am from the unionist community and I have a lot of respect for the flag of our country, but I don't agree with all this territory-marking and I definitely do not agree with the attack on the Roman Catholic Church last week.

"Once one side does something, the other side tries to up the ante and it just gets worse and worse.

"But something needs to be done to sort this out because it's as bad as I have seen it this long time."

One woman from Irish Green Street said: "I have to say I was so angry when I saw the loyalist graffiti on the chapel doors last week.

"They have painted the kerb stones here too, which is something that hasn't happened in all the years I have lived here.

"The place looks atrocious, you turn one corner and it's all red, white and blue and turn another corner and it's all green, white and orange.

"It's no wonder this town is dying on its knees. No one in their right mind would want to come here to shop or live or set up a business."

DUP councillor Aaron Callan also criticised those behind the recent sectarian markings, but claimed some within the unionist community felt that their identity was being lost.

He said: "I know the vast majority of residents in Limavady do not want to see community relations deteriorate and we need to address the issue of how do we stop this from happening again.

"There is increased tension between the two communities and when I have talked to some people within the unionist community they tell me they feel their culture and identity is being stripped away.

"They need to address that, and unfortunately this is the way they are doing that.

"It is wrong and it shouldn't happen. The Union flag should be flown with respect, not in tatters from a lamppost, and paramilitary flags should not be flown in any way whatsoever."

He added: "Marking any territory, whether it's green, white and orange or red, white and blue does not offer any solution to society,

"It won't help someone get a job, it won't make sure a child gets an education or get someone a bed in a hospital.

"A lot of work does need to be done to make sure those who are doing this can see there is nothing productive in their actions."

Sinn Fein MLA Caoimhe Archibald said: "The roundabout at the entrance to Limavady - which is also a gateway to the north coast as well - was painted last March and we have met with the police and the Department (for Infrastructure) and have called for it to be repainted.

"It is disappointing that this still hasn't been done and now we have the situation where there has been an increase in the numbers of flags, including paramilitary flags, being flown and a surge in kerbs painted red, white and blue in the town.

"I would also condemn outright the painting of the kerb stones green, white and orange in parts of Limavady."

Belfast Telegraph

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