A prominent Limavady Loyalist has warned that his community “will not be cowed by foot soldiers” who try to “stake out territory” in the town, amid an escalating dispute over flags and bonfires.
Davy Bond, a prominent member of the Loyalist community in Limavady, has taken the unusual step of speaking out, on the record, against criticism from nationalists in the wake of the Twelfth of July and 11th Night celebrations.
Both the SDLP and Sinn Féin have spoken out in the past week about the erection of loyalist flags in Limavady - including paramilitary flags such as those for the UDA and UFF.
There was also criticism over the use of Sinn Féin election posters on 11th Night bonfires.
Mr Bond hit back at what he described as “pan nationalist-republican politicians”.
He said: “We find it galling that some individuals have nothing good to say in the local press about the annual Twelfth celebrations, yet make cheap and well-worn out press statements about loyalist flags.”
Mr Bond continued, adding: “These same people who use their privileged positions to take cheap shots at our culture and our people must only work one week in the year, for we hear nothing from them for the remainder of the year other than the sound of silence.”
“Since before Easter this year and indeed in previous years, our people have had to live, eat and sleep under republican and nationalist terrorist flags on Irish Green Street and the Glens Estate.
“At any stage, have we read about any of these same self-righteous politicians call for these flags to be taken down? No. Have we read about them condemning the flying of flags glorifying the bombing of the Drop-in Well in Ballykelly? No.
“Have we heard or read one single word from them in support of the Protestant families who have to live under these flags? No. Yet now, as traditional as the Twelfth is itself, these people have found their voices to preach against our community.
“They speak of ‘turf wars’ and condemn our bonfires, yet we fly our flags and build our bonfires in our own areas with the blessing and support of our own community.
“Our message to these opportunistic politicians who have suddenly found their voice is simple – we will not be lectured to by Sinn Fein/IRA. Perhaps you should cast your mind back to the last council election and recall how you had to sit all day and worry because you didn’t get the votes you thought you would get in Limavady. Perhaps you should contemplate on why this was and why you only scraped across the line in that election.
“Do the job you were elected to do on that day and deal with your own house before you attempt to deal with ours. We will not be cowed or bullied by your foot soldiers who do try to stake out territory where our people live. We call upon you to bring these individuals to heel and instruct them to remove their flags from outside our families’ and band member’s homes.
“There would be no flags flying from lampposts in Limavady if the joint SF/SDLP controlled Limavady Borough Council hadn’t removed the Union flag from flying on designated days in Connell Street some 10 years ago. So consider your actions in the Council Chambers before you try to lecture us.
“There will be none of our flags flying when all republican flags are removed once and for all – so relay that to those whom you represent.”