Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Ballymena Council can do more to tackle sectarianism

16 June, 2006

Ballymena Sinn Féin Councillor Monica Digney has said that Ballymena Council can do more to tackle sectarianism. Ms Digney was speaking out after a staff survey showed that over 10% of the workforce feel threatened or intimidated by the Council's policy on Flags and Emblems.

Cllr Digney also said that Ballymena Council should stop funding Unionist bonfires, which burn images of Catholic religious figures as well as posters of nationalist and republican politicians.

Cllr Digney said:

"It is untenable for the Council to continue offering financial support for bonfires which clearly promote hatred and sectarianism in this area. Lets face facts, burning effigies of the Pope as well as posters of nationalist representatives like myself is going to do nothing but instil hatred and ill-feeling towards Catholics and nationalists in the Ballymena area. For Council to fund these is an affront to equality and the mutual respect that Catholic and nationalist ratepayers in this district are entitled to.

"Sinn Féin are opposed to financial aid for bonfires on the grounds that it rewards sectarian events and is bad for the environment, not only in the green sense but also in creating bad environment that nationalists in this town have to live in during the summer months.

"The results of this staff survey also show that there is a significant minority of the Council's workforce who see the flying of the Union Flag as a way of displaying one community's dominance in the Ballymena area.

"Common sense would tell you that Council's present policy on Flags and Emblems is going to damage Community Relations more than improve them. The most sensible way forward is to make the Council and its policy neutral. To let this policy remain in place would not only be discriminatory it would also leave the Council open to legal challenge and more negative publicity." ENDS

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