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Flags are ‘only there to raise tensions’

Tricolours returned to the Somerset Drive area of the Heights area in Coleraine at the weekend after residents of Somerset Drive removed them a fortnight ago as a gesture stating that all flags in the community should be removed.PICTURE MARK JAMIESON.

Tricolours returned to the Somerset Drive area of the Heights area in Coleraine at the weekend after residents of Somerset Drive removed them a fortnight ago as a gesture stating that all flags in the community should be removed.PICTURE MARK JAMIESON.

REPUBLICAN flags have been erected in the Somerset Drive/Pates Lane area, just two weeks after they were removed in a bid to improve community relations.

Speaking to The Times on Monday, DUP MLA Adrian McQuillan said he had received a number of calls over the weekend about the flags.

He said that the actions of those responsible were only ‘fuelling tensions’ in the area. There are now more flags than ever before. It is only fuelling tensions in the area.”

In a statement, Coleraine PUP representative Russell Watton also condemned the actions of those responsible. He said: “This is another unwelcome and deliberate attempt by Republicans to stoke up tensions prior to the upcoming Kevin McDaid trial.”

The PUP representative claimed: “Republican drug dealers are deliberately trying to antagonise the local community by erecting sectarian and Republican flags in a mainly Unionist area.” Mr Watton said that the flags needed to be removed as a matter of urgency.

DUP councillor George Duddy called on Coleraine’s Sinn Fein councillor Ciaran Archibald to use ‘whatever authority’ he has with those in the area. Councillor Duddy said: “I know that councillor Archibald was involved with the Community Association a number of weeks ago when the flags were removed - was this all just a publicity stunt - why were the flags took down one week and more put up again?

“Those that were involved in putting the flags up are well-known in the area, and they do nothing to enhance the area that they live in.”

Somerset Residents Association declined to comment on the weekend developments. However it’s understood that following recent discussions it was hoped by residents that the entire community would respond in good faith to the initial decision to take flags down.

Some members of the nationalist community had lost patience with no apparent movement on the loyalist side and flags were subsequently put up again on Friday night.

Sinn Fein councillor Ciaran Archibald described the erection of the flags as ‘disappointing’, he added: “I attended a community meeting were the decision was made to take the flags down. Obviously I’m disappointed by this latest development, but it is important that people realise that progress takes time.

“I’ll continue to support and work with all members of the local community to pursue an agreement to make the area a ‘flag-free’ space.

 
 
 

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