The DUP says a Sinn Féin claim Union flags erected in the Waterside in advance of’Derry Day’ were a provocation, is hard to understand.
DUP MLA Gary Middleton said the flags, flown from lamp posts on the Glendermott Road for the Apprentice Boys’ Relief of Derry celebrations, represent many different religions and cultures throughout the United Kingdom.
He made the comments after Waterside Sinn Féin Councillor Christopher Jackson complained a planned meeting to discuss the flags issue had been postponed.
“I received a phone call early on Wednesday from the DUP telling me the meeting, arranged for later that day, would no longer be going ahead,” he claimed.
“A lot of good work has gone on in this area in terms of community relations. Many of the young people putting the flags up also said they would attend the meeting.”
But Mr Middleton blasted: “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 Féin representatives regarding the flag protocols. It was made clear that they were not out to annoy anyone and just want to enjoy their culture.”
Mr Middleton said the meeting had been cancelled as it was believed by last Wednesday thst it would have been unnecessary.
“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.”