The DUP have hit back at claims that flags erected on the final section of the Apprentice Boys parade route are ‘provocative’.
A statement issued by the DUP this afternoon issued a hard-hitting rebuttal of claims made by Sinn Féin in a local newspaper today (Friday, August 7, 2015).
The DUP statement said: “With reference to recent news coverage about the erecting of flags on the final section of the parade route, the DUP and local PUL community are disgusted at the misinformation and disregard for the facts. This statement has the potential to raise tensions in what is a very settled and mixed area.
“The claim that the flags are provocative is hard to understand considering the Union flag represents many different religions and cultures throughout the entire UK.
“DUP representatives, including councillors, were on the scene on the Tuesday night when the issue first arose. There were two individuals who were objecting to the erection of the flags, one of which gave verbal abuse to the young people whilst also not being a resident of the ‘Triangle’ area.
“To say the DUP don’t care is a ridiculous statement. We, together with PUL community representatives in the Waterside have been working with our young people all over the marching season and during negotiations on Tuesday night. It was clear that these young people were not causing an issue.
“The young people were very responsible and proactive in discussions with the two individuals and the Sinn Fein representatives regarding the flag protocols. It was made clear that they were not out to annoy anyone and just want to enjoy their culture.
“The statement which has appeared in a local newspaper today gives no mention of the compromise offered by the young people. It was agreed that instead of putting the flags up in July through to August they were just putting them up before the Apprentice Boys parade on Saturday and they will be removed on Monday after the parade.
“Although a meeting was agreed on Tuesday night it was felt that a meeting was unnecessary on Wednesday, owing to the fact that the young people felt they were very reasonable with those concerned and provided a compromise which both parties seemed to acknowledge.
“This minor incident has been blown out of all proportions and people need to be mindful and respectful of other traditions and cultures.
“The DUP will be monitoring the situation and wish the thousands of people attending the parade tomorrow an enjoyable day.”