Councillor says Government must condemn flag burning by Unionists

by Padraig Conlon
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Clondalkin Councillor Mark Ward has blasted the Government for inaction on flag burning by Unionists.

Every 11th July night large bonfires are lit in many Unionist areas in Northern Ireland ahead of the 12th.

The bonfires, which are mostly made up of wooden pallets and tyres, are lit to celebrate the victory King William of Orange over King James II at the Battle of the Boyne.

The Irish Tricolour, Irish nationalist/republican symbols, Catholic symbols and effigies are also burnt on many bonfires.

The “11th Night” celebrations have been condemned for displays of sectarian or ethnic hatred and anti-social behaviour.

“I tabled a successful motion this time last year, my first motion as Mayor of South Dublin,” Cllr Ward said.

“The motion condemned the annual display of hate which sees the burning of the Irish National Flag on the 11th of July in preparation for the 12th of July “celebrations” in Unionist areas.

“The burning of our National Flag and other effigies is not culture.

“It is a hate crime.

“The motion also called on the Minister for Foreign Affairs to speak with his British counterpart and to relay our sentiments in the strongest possible way.”

“To date Minister Coveney has not responded to South Dublin and the wall of silence again leading up to the 12th of July from this Government has made it abundantly clear that no condemnation will be forth coming from this Government”

Cllr Ward the said fact that Irish tricolour signifies peace between the “orange” and “green” is vital and questioned what would happen if Union Jacks were being burned in this State.

“The Government has clearly defined how our national flag should be respected yet every year we see Irish Tricolours set atop of huge bonfires in the 6 Counties and set a flame,” he said.

“The silence that comes from the Government is deafening.

“If the British Flag was treated in the same way in the South on an annual basis there would be a national outcry and condemnation from Theresa May, yet our Government do nothing.

“Our Government rightly commemorated the heroes of 1916 and gave an Irish Flag to every school across the Country yet remain steadfastly silent as it is desecrated in the 6 counties on the 11th of July.

“The next time Minister Shane Ross is doing a little jig around one of our sporting stars with tricolours waving proudly, ask him is he happy that the same flags are burned in the North on an annual basis.

“This interjection is not designed to impinge on Unionist culture. They have the right to celebrate their past but not at our expense.

“We have all seen the images of colossal bonfires decorated with Irish Tricolours ready to be set on fire.

“Is this a hate crime?

“We have also seen the posters of my comrades in Sinn Fein on the bonfires ready to be set on fire.

“Is this a hate crime?”

“We have also seen coffins with effigies of Martin McGuiness on the bonfires.

“Is this a hate crime?”

“We have all see the image of Scott Sinclair the black Glasgow Celtic footballer on the bonfires.

“Is this a hate crime?”

“My answer to each of these questions in yes.

“These are hate crimes and cannot and should not be tolerated by this Government.

“I am calling for the Irish Government to break its wall of silence and to condemn these acts and in particular the burning of our national flag in the strongest possible way.

“I am also calling on the Minister to respond to the letter sent by South Dublin County Council that democratically passed a motion calling for him to intervene.”

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