Senior unionists call for Para flag removal

Senior unionists and the Parachute Regiment have called for regimental flags to be taken down ahead of the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday.

The flying of Parachute Regiment flags has sparked anger in Derry.
The flying of Parachute Regiment flags has sparked anger in Derry.

Ulster Unionist Party leader Doug Beattie said the flying of the flags was ‘hurtful’ .

“I have said this many times. The flying of the Parachute Regiment flag on the anniversary of Bloody Sunday is wrong. It does nothing but hurt the victims who still grieve to this day and shows a total lack of respect and compassion,” said Mr. Beattie.

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The Parachute Regiment whose soldiers gunned down 14 innocent anti-internment marchers in Derry on January 30, 1972, said it was ‘100 per cent’ in agreement with Mr. Beattie, adding that the flying of the flags was ‘totally unacceptable and disrespectful behaviour’.

DUP MLA Gary Middleton said: “I share the position of the Parachute Regiment. These actions are unacceptable and disrespectful. It is unnecessary and designed to be offensive. I am proud of our Armed Forces however the erection of these flags are not designed to mark any of those things. They should be removed.”

The appearance of the flags was earlier condemned by local nationalist politicians.

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Sinn Féin MLA Ciara Ferguson said: “There is huge upset in the city after British army Parachute Regiment flags were erected in Newbuildings and Drumahoe over recent days. Given this British regiment’s brutal history in Derry, this is a deliberate attempt to stir up tensions and hurt families ahead of the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday and the murder of 14 civilians by the British Army in Derry.”

SDLP MLA Sinéad McLaughlin said: “I know the people who erected these flags do not speak for these communities. The vast majority of the people in our city just want to get along with their neighbours in an atmosphere of mutual respect and understanding.”