PSNI accused of Flags double standards
Sinn Féin representative for Banbridge and District, Cllr Dessie Ward has accused the PSNI of double standards over the issue of flags after they removed tri-colours from the Scarva Road/Peggy's Loaning area of Banbridge last night while saying they had no legal power to remove flags and bunting in other parts of the Upper Bann constituency.
Cllr Ward said:
"The removal of tri-colours from the Scarva Road/Peggy's Loaning area, and particularly the 'gung-ho' approach to local residents highlights once again the failure of elements within the PSNI to come to terms with the new political dispensation.
"In other areas of Upper Bann, such as Lurgan, the PSNI have refused to take down flags and bunting claiming that they had no legal power to do so. Yet last night in Banbridge six PSNI landrovers and officers in riot gear were used to remove tri-colours from the Scarva Road/Peggy's Loaning area. There was no consultation with the local community and the approach of PSNI to local residents was a disgrace.
"Sinn Féin don't want to see any flags in Banbridge, whether they be union flags, ulster flags or tri-colours. However, if the PSNI are prepared to climb lamp-posts to remove tri-colours then they must also be prepared to remove the hundreds of unionist flags from the district.
"This one-sided approach has also been adopted by senior officials of Banbridge Council who I was in touch with about the issue; with one senior council officer actually trying to justify the presence of unionist and loyalist flags in the area. The same council officers have previously been threatened by Loyalists in the area. Despite the strong words from Hugh Orde that he was going to deal with violent Loyalism, here in Banbridge we have the PSNI responding to their agenda.
"The only way to deal with flags is on the basis of equality or neutrality; either no flags or equal and mutual respect. Within Banbridge we need to deal with all of the flags in the district equally. For our part, Sinn Féin will be working for a completely flag free environment in the Banbridge area." ENDS