Loyalist protest outside Limavady council
LOYALIST protesters draped in union flags swamped the entrance to Limavady Borough Council and threw eggs last night to protest the “stripping away of Britishness” in Northern Ireland.
Small numbers of police officers maintained order, with DUP councillors also speaking with the crowd shortly before a scheduled council meeting had begun.
Cheers from the 100 strong crowd could be heard from inside the council chamber as eggs were thrown at the building. Police could be observed filming the entire episode.
A 49-year-old man was also arrested and later charged with dangerous driving and possession of an offensive weapon, following an incident on Connell Street last night, 11 December, when a car was driven the wrong way down the one way system with a union flag flying from the vehicle’s rear. The man will appear before Limavady Magistrates’ Court on January 2, 2013. A police spokesperson said: “As is normal procedure the charges will be reviewed by the Public Prosecution Service.”
Sinn Féin councillors were escorted out the building’s back entrance on the advice of PSNI after the meeting had concluded in order to avoid any confrontation with the Loyalist crowds outside. Liam Flanigan, Limavady Borough Council’s Chief Executive, informed the elected representatives that he had taken a call from police advising that there was potential for disorder.
The Sentinel spoke to some of those in the crowd at the largely peaceful protest. Asked what the protest was about, Richard Nicholl said: “We are here in light of what happened up in Belfast last week and we’re proud to show our solidarity with the people who we think are getting a raw deal. That flag was flying for over a century and it never bothered anybody in all that time.”
Standing nearby, Richard Kealy added: “We would love to see the union flag back up at Limavady Borough Council. The union flag was taken away from this building years ago. While I was a member of the Royal British Legion we brought a barrel and put the flag pole on it. We saw it as our duty to keep the flag flying outside public buildings such as this one.
“The way I look at it, it was a political decision to take the flag down but it is not a political flag. We live in the UK, we were born and bred in the UK. We would love to see it back up in Limavady. You wouldn’t take the Irish tricolour down in Dublin.”
Another protester, William Moore, added: “This is not just about the flag. It is about the chipping away at our British identity. They are stripping away our Britishness.”
Meanwhile, it was business as usual inside the council chamber as Limavady’s elected representatives heard from the RNLI about their work at Benone beach and elsewhere in Northern Ireland. Councillors discussed other issues, such as the provision of funding throughout the Borough, making further use of the former army barracks in Ballykelly, the impact of cuts to local schools and a wide range of other issues.
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Weather for Londonderry
Friday 24 May 2013
Temperature: 5 C to 12 C
Wind Speed: 16 mph
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