DUP Group welcomes peaceful flag protest

Ballymoney DUP Council Group has welcomed the peaceful protest in Ballymoney on Friday evening.

Over 100 protestors converged on Ballymoney Borough Council’s headquarters to show their opposition to Belfast City Council’s decision to fly the Union flag only on designated datys.

In a statement to the Times, Alderman Bill Kennedy DUP Cllr Group Leader said: “Much attention in recent days has been focused unfortunately on violence associated with protests arising from the vote at Belfast City Council to only fly the Union Flag on designated days.

“We are glad that the protest in Ballymoney had no such disturbances, but rather was as protests should be peaceful and dignified.

“We would commend those who were responsible for organising the protest for also ensuring that the focus of the protest remained firmly on the issue.

“The decision by nationalists to seek the removal of the Union flag at City Hall was a divisive and provocative act. Sadly any progress in working relationship has been disrupted and substantially damaged as a consequence of the decision taken by Sinn Fein, the SDLP and Alliance.

“For some Councillors then to indicate that the removal of the Union Flag completely from two Council buildings and from City Hall for around 350 days of the year was a compromise which was to be celebrated is perverse.

“During the consultation process, both the public and staff emphatically rejected reducing the flying of the Union flag only on a handful of designated days.

“It took nearly two years from the debate started until the decision was made.

“Throughout that time unionism was not idle. Unionists acted democratically, legitimately and politically.

“Our Belfast Unionist councillors used every democratic means publicly and privately to prevent the Union Flag from being removed.

“Thousands of signatures were collected and tens of thousands of leaflets were distributed. These leaflets did not call on people to come on to the streets but asked people to engage in the democratic process.

“Their views were to be communicated by letter, email or telephone. The leaflet specifically asked people to be respectful at all times when making their views known.

“This is and should remain the way all such matters are dealt with in a democratic society.

“People’s right to protest is justified and legitimate and should be defended.

“As was proved in Ballymoney it can be peaceful, maybe that is why it didn’t get media attention.

“As our party leader and First Minister Peter Robinson has said, ‘Let no one be in any doubt, whether it is the Parades Commission, Alliance or Sinn Fein, the DUP believes in and wants to achieve a shared future for Northern Ireland, a shared future within the Union but that does not require and will not involve any diminution of our Britishness.’