Fielding stands by flags stance

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DUP councillor has hit back at alderman Maura Hickey’s comments regarding his remarks on the removal of flags in Portstewart.

Councillor Fielding said that the deputy mayor failed to mention or condemn the removal of flags and accused him of making assumptions.

In a statement, he said: “I can repeat with confidence and knowledge what I said in my original statement. All of the people who erected flags in Portstewart are locals with addresses in the town and all are known personally to me.

“They have also taken into account matters of concern with individuals in the community and responded accordingly. They are now outraged by comments made by councillor Hickey. No one of course should have to seek permission to fly the flag of the United Kingdom.”

Councillor Fielding was unapologetic over the traditional display of flags at this time of year: “I have lived in Portstewart all my working life and over 27 Julys as an observer and supporter of the culture of the Unionist tradition I have watched the display of our country’s flags in the Diamond and other streets at the beginning of July which traditionally were erected at the same time with the raising of the Orange Arch across the Diamond.

“This event which has ceased within the last decade was often accompanied by bands and lambeg drums and watched by locals and tourists. Indeed, I have a photograph taken of my family by The Coleraine Times at this event.

“As previously stated, removal of flags in Portstewart will not prevent the traditional display of the legitimate flags of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in the town at this period of the year.”