LOYALISTS in Castlederg have been accused of ratcheting up tensions ahead of this weekend’s Tyrone Fleadh after Union Flags appeared on lampposts across the town.
More than 20 flags have been erected along Castlederg’s Main Street and town centre in the run up to the Fleadh which kicks off this evening (Thursday).
Chairman of Strabane District Council, Sinn Féin’s Ruairi McHugh, described the display as “an attempt to heighten inter-community tensions” in the area.
His party colleague Maolíosa McHugh added that he felt the blanket flying of the Union Flag would not be supported by the wider community – both Protestant and Catholic.
Ruairí McHugh said he hoped the attempt to heighten tensions would be ignored by “the good people of Castlederg”.
Cllr McHugh said, “Despite attempts by a small minority to try and heighten inter-community tensions and undermine the good preparatory work undertaken by the local branch of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, AranDerg to ensure the Fleadh’s success in co-operation with all sections of the community in Castlederg, I have no doubt the good people of Castlederg will ignore this and ensure a very successful and enjoyable event for all.”
It is not clear who erected the flags and the PSNI said that they would only intervene in such a situation if it involved a threat to life.
Unionist representative for the area, UUP councillor Derek Hussey, said the flags had been put up to mark the July marching season rather than to create tensions ahead of the Fleadh.
Cllr Hussey added that he saw no reason for anyone taking offence when the Union Flag was the symbol of the United Kingdom.
He said, “I would not regard the flags as going up ahead of the Fleadh but rather as ahead of the July/August celebrations as they do annually.
“I would also note that they are Union Flags and not paramilitary flags. The Union Flag is that of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland is part of the UK.”
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