East Antrim MLA Oliver McMullan has called for the removal of all “offensive” flags in Carrickfergus.
The Sinn Féin representative was commenting after the erection of Nazi and Confederate emblems close to a bonfire site in Glenfield estate sparked public outcry.
Welcoming the removal of these items, Mr McMullan added: “However, during the public discussion on these flags everyone was queuing up to condemn the Nazi flag while ignoring the fact there are also loyalist paramilitary flags in the same area.
“Instead of selective condemnation, unionist public representatives and community leaders need to step up to the mark and ensure that all offensive racist and sectarian flags are removed.”
Police say they received calls on Tuesday evening from members of the public reporting their distress and concern at the appearance of swastika-bearing and Confederate emblems close to a bonfire site.
Speaking in the early hours of Wednesday morning (Wednesday) Superintendent Ryan Henderson said: “PSNI actively engaged with community representatives who thankfully were able to bring good sense and influence to bear, leading to the removal of most of these flags.”
The PUP said its representative Gareth Cole worked with the community to produce a positive outcome.
Mr Cole commented: “The people of Glenfield estate did not want this flag in their community and I commend them for their swift actions in having it taken down and taking a stand against this sinister and disturbing action. The people of Carrickfergus are proud and principled Unionists, and many have served their country in the fight against fascism.”
He added that he has since been told the flags will be burned on the Eleventh night bonfire.
East Antrim MLA Roy Beggs spoke of his disgust on hearing that swastika flags had been erected in Glenfield.
The UUP man said: “The swastika represents everything that is wrong within society. It is the symbol of Hitler’s Nazi regime of abuse, aggression and genocide in World War Two. Indeed it was responsible for the deaths of many local servicemen and women that are remembered each year.
“It also represents those who killed many Belfast civilians during the Belfast Blitz. As such it inflicted great pain on the local community, just like the IRA. It should not be part of the 21st century.
“I am glad that the flags in question are now down. Common sense has prevailed. Clearly a greater awareness of British history is required.”
East Antrim MP Sammy Wilson said the flags have absolutely nothing in common with unionism or with loyalism.
The DUP man said: “Only a short time ago Carrickfergus played host to part of our Armed Forces Day celebrations and on Sunday the RAF’s Red Arrows flew proudly over Carrick Castle. People from Northern Ireland fought bravely in our armed forces to defeat the Nazis and these flags should have no part in our society.”
The First Minister and Deputy First Minister added their voices to the condemnation via Twitter.
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