Flags at Derry park and ride: ​Durkan calls for leadership

​Foyle MLA Mark H Durkan has raised criticised the ‘lack of leadership’ to tackle the increased number of flags erected in mixed residential areas across the city as well as at Drumahoe Park and Ride on the new A6 route.
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​It follows concerns from constituents who have indicated the presence of flags has made them feel unsafe and unwelcome.

The Foyle MLA said: “It’s unacceptable that people should feel intimidated in the areas which they live. There appears to be more flags than usual this year and their presence in new, mixed residential areas is cause for concern.

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“I’ve contacted the Department for Infrastructure, who have stated they continue to engage with the PSNI to remove these symbols. The flags erected at the new Drumahoe Park and Ride are of particular concern given this is an arterial route into the city as well as the political sensitivities in the area. This should not be visitors first impression of our home.

Flags have been erected at Drumahoe Park and RideFlags have been erected at Drumahoe Park and Ride
Flags have been erected at Drumahoe Park and Ride

“Whatever your views, the physical dissemination of flags in Northern Ireland is an act of ‘marking territory’ and in effect sow seeds of division. The majority of the public do not support or want flags, they want our shared spaces to be safe, inclusive and free of intimidation. It’s important to remember our history and celebrate all identities here but it should and must always be done in a respectful way.”

Mr Durkan continued: “The political quagmire that is flags, commemoration events and bonfires and the incendiary behaviour which often goes hand in hand, cannot be excused as an expectation of tribal politics. There’s evidence of loyalist paramilitaries and dissident republican gangs working together in criminal enterprise yet they will stoke tensions between communities. And it isn’t just our criminal gangs, but our biggest political parties depend on that division too, which perhaps explains the lack of appetite to address these thorny issues that continue to hold this place back and accelerate the exodus of young people from here to escape the bigotry which hangs over the North.

“It’s no wonder then that the youth here are disengaged when it comes to politics. No society can flourish in a hostile environment. Our shared future depends on moving beyond green and orange. Leadership owes it to the people to stand up, speak out on these issues and make a tangible effort to bridge the divide in the interests of peace and security.”