THE erection of flags in a north Antrim village has been blasted as “blatant sectarian aggression”.
Three flags - including an Irish tricolour and two others with Irish republican links - were put up over the Easter holiday period in Rasharkin which has seen simmering tensions between the two communities over recent years.
One councillor has called for the wider community to stub out the actions of what he claims are elements within Rasharkin intent on stirring up hostility.
DUP councillor for the area, John Finlay, said: “In what can only be described as an act of blatant sectarian aggression, three republican flags have been erected on a pole directly opposite Rasharkin Orange Hall.
“This had only one aim in mind and that was to intimidate Protestants using the Orange Hall and also heighten tension in Rasharkin.
“These flags were unwanted and uncalled for by the vast majority of people living in Rasharkin, both Roman Catholic and Protestant.
“I believe a minority of people living in Rasharkin are still bent on creating sectarian tension and making Rasharkin village an unwelcome place for Protestants.
I have contacted the PSNI to see about the removal of these flags.
“For far too long in Rasharkin this naked sectarianism has been allowed to carry on, albeit with a small minority. It is time for all elected representatives to ensure that this sectarianism stops and people allowed to use their homes and property without being intimidated.
“As an elected representative I cannot stand idly by and see people being intimidated in this manner, it is time for the whole community to stand together and have these flags removed.
“We cannot have a small minority of people in Rasharkin holding the whole community to ransom. I note that none of the people responsible for erecting these flags, fly these flags from their own houses – it seems to be more about aggression rather than loyalty to them.
“I now call for these flags to be removed immediately.”