‘It’s better for the town’

Flags being taken down in Limavady on Wednesday evening. 0405SJ5
Flags being taken down in Limavady on Wednesday evening. 0405SJ5

Republicans involved in erecting flags in Limavady say they will give their word to fly the Tricolour only on designated days to “set an example” to unionists and help improve the image of the town.

The move comes as Limavady mayor, Sean McGlinchey, revealed talks were planned to resolve the long-running saga of flags in Limavady, and that he’d met with those involved in erecting Tricolours in the Glens area. He also revealed he had also met with the PSNI and Council’s Good Relations officer, in a bid to find a way forward on the issue through a forum. He said the first step in that initiative was the removal of flags along Ballyquin Road and upper Irish Green Street, including a massive Tricolour which had been up since Easter, by 9pm on Wednesday.

After the flags were removed, one of those involved in putting them up told the ‘Journal’ flying the Tricolour would only be done on designated days. He said the preferred designated area would be in front of the green, along the middle of Ballyquin Road, to fly The Tricolour, the Starry Plough and Starburst flags on between eight and 10 days of the year.

“It’s better for the town,” he said, adding that he preferred not to be named. “We’ve been fighting to have a designated area for this for the last two years. It won’t bring the town down because the town won’t be covered in flags. We hope to set an example.”

The man said if a similar arrangement existed or was requested for loyalist flags, “we would be happy enough about that, instead of them being flown all year round”.

SDLP Colr. Gerry Mullan said he welcomed “any initiative that resulted in a permanent and lasting solution to what has become a long-standing issue”.

“It has been detrimental to the local economy, I believe, and detrimental to the visual amenity of the area. People in Limavady may seem to have got so used to them, but they ignore them contemptuously. Nevertheless, the flags have done nothing to attract much-needed footfall to the local shops. I’m glad to hear this and hope it lasts.”

A Limavady Borough Council spokesperson said that as part of its Good Relations programme, the Good Relations Officer and the PSNI have been working with local representatives and councillors over the past few years to “decrease tensions during flag flying periods”.

“Although engagement in negotiations and discussions has been difficult at times, work continues with the aim of finding alternative solutions to mass flag flying within the Borough,” said the spokesperson.