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Using Para flags to hurt the Bloody Sunday families shameful: Beattie

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A flag bearing the symbol of the Parachute Regiment in Newbuildings

A flag bearing the symbol of the Parachute Regiment in Newbuildings

A flag bearing the symbol of the Parachute Regiment in Newbuildings

A war hero turned Ulster Unionist MLA has hit out at the erection of Parachute Regiment flags in a Co Londonderry village in the run-up to this week's Bloody Sunday anniversary.

Dough Beattie, a recipient of the Military Cross, described the action by loyalists as "sickening".

And the Ministry of Defence accused those who placed the provocative flags on lampposts along the A5 in Newbuildings, on the outskirts of Derry, of "degrading the memory of the brave men and women from all sections of the community that have served".

Members of the Parachute Regiment gunned down 14 civilians in Derry on January 30, 1972 during an anti-internment march.

In 2010, and following the Saville Inquiry into Bloody Sunday, Prime Minister David Cameron formally apologised for the slaughter in the House of Commons.

Mr Beattie said the flags were being used "to hurt the families" of Bloody Sunday victims, not to pay tribute to the regiment. He added: "There is absolutely no place for them whatsoever. I think that is totally shameful to do that, because it is only done for one reason and we all know what that reason is. As for people who say that they are putting up that flag to remember the paratroopers who were killed in Northern Ireland throughout the Troubles, I say to them this - this does not remember their memory in any shape or form. It is not something that they would want. It is not something that their colleagues would want to see. It is using the memory of these men in order to hurt the Bloody Sunday families. Some of the flags that are flying are not regimental flags of the Parachute Regiment. They are made-up flags. It sickens me, as a former soldier, as someone who has proudly stood under a regimental flag, who has buried colleagues under regimental flags, to see people who put them up for the wrong reasons."

The MoD also condemned the misuse of the flag, telling the Belfast Telegraph that Army banners should only be used in an official capacity.

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"Flags, emblems and associated regalia is an integral part of the unique identity and heritage of the many regiments and units that make up the British Armed Forces," it said.

"The MoD does not condone in any way their misuse. They should be used only in an official capacity. Any person or group doing otherwise degrades the memory of the brave men and women from all sections of the community that have served."

Last week Kate Nash, sister of 19-year-old William Nash, who was killed on Bloody Sunday, hit out at those who erected the flags in the run-up to Sunday's commemoration march, calling the move "blind sectarianism".

"It is hurtful. It would disturb you," she said.


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