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Call for removal of flags after street disturbances in Lurgan

2 July, 2007

Sinn Féin Assembly member for Upper Bann John O'Dowd has called for the immediate removal of flags and bunting from Lurgan Town Centre. Mr O'Dowd's remarks came after serious disorder in the town for much of yesterday evening caused by flags and bunting being erected.

Mr O'Dowd said:

"In recent days Orange Order supporters and members erected loyalist flags and bunting in the lower part of Lurgan town centre. This was in direct defiance of the wishes of local people and traders in that area.

"Yesterday nationalist youths erected a number of Tricolours in the same area. A stand off developed in the town centre between groups of young people and fighting took place between the groups and with the PSNI. A number of people were injured.

"Last year Sinn Féin highlighted this problem and indeed we removed the loyalist bunting to avert an incident like last night. During the winter months we brought forward proposals to deal with the marching issue in Luragn including the problems with flags and bunting. We have met with local traders who are in agreement with us that the town centre should be a flag free area. The fact remains Lurgan simply cannot afford a repeat of yesterday evenings problems.

"I would once again repeat my appeal to both the Loyal Orders and the local loyalist bands to sit down with Sinn Féin to discuss the proposals we have put on the table to deal with these matters. Simply proceeding as they have done to date is not a realistic option as yesterday evenings events proved." ENDS

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