Flag violence is ‘totally unacceptable’: MP

Gregory Campbell outing going MLA who was returned to Foyle.  (1005JB06)
Gregory Campbell outing going MLA who was returned to Foyle. (1005JB06)

The DUP’s Gregory Campbell says violence at union flag protests over the past week are “totally unacceptable.”

However, the East Derry MP insists the protests are an indication of the “anger” that exists within the wider unionist community.

“When the protests die down, the underlying problems that caused them must be dealt with,” he told the ‘Journal’.

“Until that happens, the next controversy to light another flame is but a spark away.”

Mr. Campbell says the flags issue is a symptom of a much wider problem.

“It is but the latest in a range of matters raising tensions within the unionist community.

“For instance, we had 10 years of legislative discrimination against young Protestants joining their own Police Service while there are those in Sinn Fein who want our parades stopped and silenced outside Roman Catholic churches but are happy to parade and play triumphantly outside Protestant churches.

“Some in the SDLP and Sinn Fein think it is good for community relations to name a children’s playground after an IRA gunman while others want another terrorist released after he tried to murder an innocent man.

“The campaign to take London out of the name Londonderry is pursued by nationalists and republicans. At the same time, republicans demand an apology from a Prime Minister for the actions of British soldiers who had to deal with the terror they created and, yet, they don’t apologise for the terror they inflicted in the first place.”

Meanwhile, the North’s First and Deputy First Minister have called for an end to the ongoing loyalist protests against the decision to reduce the number of days the Union flag flies at Belfast City Hall.

In a joint statement, Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness said politicians needed to work together to find “an agreed solution”.

They added: “We recognise and support the right to peaceful protest but the way forward is through dialogue. The current protests are damaging Christmas trade and the local economy as well as disrupting peoples’ daily lives.

“An absence of street protests would provide the space to allow us all to work together to find an agreed solution.”

At the time of going to press last night, local loyalists said they were planning to stage a protest in the city as part of a campaign to “bring this country to a standstill”.

Organised on social media site Facebook, protests were said to be planned for around 30 locations across the North.

Among the locations listed was Glendermott Road in the Waterside.