Loyalists in borough demand flying of flag

LOYALISTS in Ballymoney are to demand that the Union flag flies every day of the year in the town, the Times has learned.

It is understood that pressure will be put on unionist councillors to table a motion calling for the permanent display of the flag at the council offices.

Since the decision was taken by Belfast City Council to lower the flag, the issue has wreaked havoc throughout the province causing widespread disruption particularly to the commercial sector.

And as far as the Borough is concerned, feelings amongst loyalists have deepened wi th villages and the town itself awash with the Union flag as protests continue to dominate the news agendas .

A loyalist source told the Times that they would not be content until the flag was hoisted at the council offices as a statement that the area was pro-British, however any moves in that direction are likely to fail because of legislation.

Ballymoney council would have to review their policies as well as carry out an impact equality assessment and because of current legislation the issue would not succeed, according to a council source.

Lisburn Council failed in a similar bid to what loyalists in Ballymoney are now calling for.

Ballymoney Council have only ever flown the flag on designated days - a move which was endorsed by members sometime ago.

Loyalists see the flag controversy as part of a wider agenda which, they claim has eroded much of their links with Britain and are determined to carry on with protests.

Last Monday night councillors found themselves hemmed in for around an hour as demonstrators who had earlier congregated at the Portrush Road roundabout before picketing the council offices, prevented local representatives from getting to their vehicles.

Police were present to ensure there was no disorder and at one point, the Mayor, Councillor Evelyne Robinson, agreed to speak to protesters who made their feelings known about the flags controversy as well as highlighting the perceived lack of progress on a proposed multi use games area at the Glebeside estate

Some locals claimed that nationalist areas appeared to benefit more from council spending than the likes of the Glebe and wanted to know why the six-figure scheme was not proceeding, but the Mayor assured them that progress was being made and that she would get back to them with more detail.

One councillor spoken to by the Times flatly denied bias towards any area and pointed to a £1m. scheme for a new community centre in Dervock as well as the upgrading of football pitches. He also pointed out the benefits the communities of Ballybogey, Stranocum and Balnamore had received with the provision of new community centres.

One councillor said: “The people of Dunloy and Cloughmills have demonstrated great willingness to fund-raise on their own and the facilities they have provided without any cost to the ratepayer has been excellent.

“The council act in an even-handed manner towards all parts of the Borough irrespective of make-up.”