‘People should feel comfortable to celebrate saint’s life’

Councillor William McCandless.
Councillor William McCandless.

Ulster Unionist Councillor William McCandless has expressed hope that Irish tricolours can be removed from Coleraine’s St Patrick’s Day route.

The Causeway Coast and Glens Council representative said the erection of the flags was an attempt to cause sectarian tension on the eve of the annual celebrations.

Mr McCandless said: “St. Patrick is the patron saint for all people, regardless of their denomination or politics. Therefore people should feel comfortable to celebrate his life and work in the Christian Church. However, I have been contacted today by concerned residents over the erection of Irish tricolours along the parade route which local bands will walk tomorrow evening.

“It is disappointing that people have used a day which should be celebratory and joyful to create divisions and produce tensions in the area. No one in the Coleraine community wants to have such division. These flags have been erected by a small group of people who do not wish to have an inclusive society.

“I have been working with a local community leader today in an attempt to remove the flags in time for the scheduled parade tomorrow. Last year loyalist groups removed flags from the area due to the good work by councillors and community leaders so I hope the same can be achieved on this occasion.”