A DUP MLA has branded as “totally ridiculous” a four hour police and emergency services operation to rescue a teenager who attempted to remove a Union Jack flag from the roof of Kilrea Orange Hall.
Councillor Adrian McQuillan claimed that six police cars, a police van, an ambulance and two fire appliances from Kilrea and Londonderry attended the scene last Tuesday night. Police have so far not commented on his claims.
Three youths had scaled the building to take down the flag however while two of them fled another teenager was unable to get down from the roof.
Councillor McQuillan claimed it took four hours to get the youth down from the roof.
“This was a totally ridiculous situation. The mentality of these young boys to get onto private property to take down this flag was a joke. They would have had to come some distance to be offended by it.
“Then you have the considerable cost to the public purse and tying up an ambulance and fire appliances where they would be needed better elsewhere.”
Councillor McQuillan said the rescue operation was delayed because an extended ladder was needed to get the young man down from the building.
“This is the latest example of flags being taken down. We had the same sort of thing in Moneydig and a wreath taken from the war memorial in Aghadowey.
“The people who are doing this are just trying to up the ante and create tension. As I have said before people have the right to fly flags on their own property.”
SDLP alderman, Maura Hickey said:” I find myself in agreement with DUP Councillor Adrian McQuillan when he says, ‘people have the right to fly a flag from their own homes.’
“Of course they have and I acknowledge their right to do so.
“However, I am astonished that Adrian’s colleague, councillor Mark Fielding attempts to create the assumption that those involved in the erection of the flags in Portstewart have worked well with the local community.
“On the contrary some of those involved in the erection of the flags in Portstewart may not even be from the area.
“While councillor Fielding may claim that the display of flags is traditional in Portstewart, I can assure him that this is not a true reflection of the opinions of many people in the community, many of whom come from the Unionist tradition.”