Anger over Skeoge roundabout flags

An IRSP flag hangs near Skeoge Roundabout on the Skeoge Road yesterday afternoon.
An IRSP flag hangs near Skeoge Roundabout on the Skeoge Road yesterday afternoon.

Transport NI have said they are unable to remove flags erected near the Skeoge Roundabout because of fears staff could be attacked.

In recent weeks, Starry Plough banners, Irish Republican Socialist Party flags, Irish tricolours and flags bearing the face of Che Guevara have been erected on lamppost both on and near the Skeoge Roundabout.

Local SDLP councillor for the area, Mark O’Donnell said he had received complaints from residents in the area.

“My council colleagues and I have fielded a number of complaints about these flags from concerned constituents

“We feel that as we promote Derry as a shared city moving forward these flags can be seen as alienating, intimidating and are not representative of the community as a whole,” he said.

Colr. O’Donnell told the Journal that he had been in contact with Transport NI who say the are unable to act due to safety concerns for their staff and equipment.

“We will be raising the issue again with relevant stakeholders at the local Community Safety Team within the coming days.

“This is not really an image of Derry that we want to send out on one of the major corridors into the city and we are hopeful that there will be a united community response to this issue.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Regional Development said; “In dealing with flags, the Department works within the Joint Protocol on the Display of Flags in Public Places.

“The protocol recognises that an effective resolution to the flags issue is more likely to be achieved through the co-operation of local communities. It requires community support to enable the partnership established by the protocol to be effective and the Agency that is in the most effective position to consult, negotiate or resolve the situation will take the lead. The Department for Regional Development is generally not perceived to be the lead agency under the current Protocol.

“Under the protocol, the Department, if called upon by the lead Agency, will provide the access equipment and resources to remove unwanted flags once agreement has been reached that they should be taken down.

“Our experience has been that removing flags in the absence of widespread support across the community simply worsens the situation. Also we have to take account of the risks to our workers in removing flags where agreement has not been reached.”