Flags, kerbstones and church attack blasted

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The illegal erection of union and paramilitary flags, the painting of kerbstones, and the daubing of UDA slogans on a Catholic Church, were clear attempts by those on the extreme fringes of unionism to intimidate people and mark territory, an MLA has stated.

East Derry Sinn Féin MLA Caoimhe Archibald has called for the removal of any offensive banners from street infrastructure in an effort to rebuild community relations throughout the constituency.

She said a sectarian attack on St. Mary’s Catholic Church on Irish Green Street in Limavady, which occurred in July when a statue depicting the crucified Jesus was defaced and loyalist slogans painted on the walls of the place of worship, fell into the same category of intimidatory anti-community behaviour.

Speaking after a meeting with the PSNI during, which she discussed a range of issues that surfaced during the summer, the East Derry MLA said: “I met with senior PSNI locally to discuss a number of issues including the tensions over the past number of weeks in Limavady where there had been a number of incidents including flags being erected, kerbstones painted and sectarian graffiti daubed on the local chapel.

“Last weekend saw an end to the marching season, and we now have the opportunity to rebuild community relations and begin to plan for next year.

“A first step would be the removal of all flags which have been erected illegally over the past number of months, with all paramilitary flags being taken down immediately and steps then being taken to end the practice of flags being erected to mark out territory and intimidate people.”

The East Derry MLA said the territorial marking of lamp posts with union and paramilitary flags was unacceptable and did nothing for the people of the area.

“I would call on everyone across the community to engage in this process, and for all political and community representatives to use their influence in a positive way to encourage engagement. At the meeting I also raised the concerns of some residents in Coleraine about the policing of band parades recently and received reassurances with respect to the future policing of parades, I will also be raising these concerns with the Parades Commission,” she said.