Sinn Féin MLA Declan Kearney has expressed his dismay and deep frustration at the refusal to remove flags erected on the St Comgall’s Chapel Corner in Antrim Town.
The South Antrim representative spoke out after behind the scenes attempts to address the situation in recent days failed to properly resolve the situation. He said:
“Last week the Chapel Corner was festooned with a variety of flags and bunting. Flags associated with the UDA, British Paratroop regiment and locally based unionist flute bands were erected in the immediate vicinity of St Comgall’s chapel, school and car park.
“This was both provocative, insensitive and a clear attempt at intimidation.
“I and other Sinn Féin colleagues engaged privately with unionist political representatives and the PSNI in an attempt to secure the removal of these flags at this sensitive location.
“The Chapel Corner and surrounding residential areas of Antrim Town are shared and neutral community spaces. It is absolutely intolerable that they continue to be abused in this way. However it is particularly outrageous that St Comgall’s Chapel should be targeted with the offensive erection of paramilitary, paratroop and band flags.
“As a result of persistent efforts two of these flags were separately, and eventually removed just prior to the arrival of a funeral on Saturday morning, but those responsible refused to remove the flute band flags. That is unacceptable and indefensible.
“No place of worship anywhere should be subjected to such disrespect or sectarian intimidation. Those responsible for what has happened here should be ashamed of themselves. It is long past time that this type of behaviour is stopped.
“All shared residential, retail, recreational areas and workplaces must be respected, and kept free from sectarian threat or harassment.
“All political and civic leaders, and public agencies have a clear obligation to promote and protect good community relations and to uphold the law.”