Flags dispute as Lurgan flutters with emblems

The variety of flags in Lurgan. INLM27-129gc
The variety of flags in Lurgan. INLM27-129gc

NATIONALIST politicians in Lurgan have called on unionists to use their influence after the erection of loyalist bunting and flags in the town.

Sinn Fein urged the DUP to use their influence within the Orange and Black Institutions in the interests of the economy of the borough.

Cllr Mark O’Dowd said: “This primitive marking out of territory damages community relations and has a highly negative impact on the economic welfare of the town. He said it would be viewed as a deliberate attempt to raise tensions.

He said that while the DUP present themselves as defenders of the ratepayer their and the Orange Order’s ‘negative and divisive actions are damaging the potential for major income’. “The shortfall will have to be made up through the domestic rate with the local householders forced to shoulder a severe burden.”

SDLP Cllr Joe Nelson said the party is concerned the loyal orders have ‘sought to extend their marked territory further down the town’ than in recent years’.

Describing it as a ‘cynical move’, he said they had numerous complaints from residents and traders and will be consulting with relevant agencies. Elements within Orangeism seem determined to up the ante as we rapidly approach the peak of the marching season.”

DUP Cllr Carla Lockhart said: “A shared future means sharing space and respecting each other’s identity. Some nationalists and republicans seem to think a shared future means an anaemic society where people’s identity is erased. Cllr O’Dowd has confirmed that in his comments. He wants a symbols free zone but such an attitude will never move our society forward. Such an attitude will take us backwards and displays an astounding level of intolerance which would not be acceptable if it was being displayed to any other section of society.

“We will only move forward when people like Cllr O’Dowd demonstrate respect for alternative cultures. I don’t expect Cllr O’Dowd to become a supporter of the Twelfth but he should demonstrate tolerance and respect as an elected representative.”

Ulster Unionist Deputy Mayor Colin McCusker said the loyal orders do not organise or erect the flags, adding they are erected by members of the community.