Calls for NI ‘offensive material’ law change after UVF and Parachute Regiment flags sold
However, DUP councillor Maurice Devenney fired back with claims that stalls at other events selling “paraphernalia” promoting the IRA with “Ooh Ah up the Ra” were also offensive
Members of Derry City and Strabane Council have called for a change in its licensing laws to prevent the sale of ‘offensive material’, after a stall sold Parachute Regiment and UVF flags during the Apprentice Boys parade.
Last month, police seized a number of items after images on social media showed the flags for sale from the stall at the junction of Clooney Terrace/Limavady Road.
The matter was raised by SDLP councillor Brian Tierney during the council’s health and community committee, who called the sale of the flags “morally wrong”.
However, DUP councillor Maurice Devenney fired back with claims that stalls at other events selling “paraphernalia” promoting the IRA with “Ooh Ah up the Ra” were also offensive.
Mr Tierney said the sale of the flags were designed to “mark our territory” and “mock people”, and the council should be doing what it can to stop flags being flown in the area.
“I understand the difficult sensitivities around that and I also want to point out that I am not raising this issue around the march, around unionist culture or anything like that,” he added.
“It is my understanding that this committee issued a licence to stall holders who were involved in or facilitated the Apprentice Boys of Derry march in this city only recently. One of those stalls was selling Parachute Regiment flags.
“In my view and in the view of my constituents I have spoken to across this city and district, they find it offensive, they find it wrong and they don’t want to see those types of flags or any types of flags being flown or sold around this council area.
“There’s a reason why this particular type of flag was brought to this particular city and sold and that’s wrong and it shouldn’t be allowed to happen and this council should take steps to ensure it doesn’t.”
A council officer said its licensing team will carry out a review of criteria for “determining the application of temporary licences in consultation with key stakeholders”, including the PSNI.
The council official also informed members the trader selling the flags was not in in breach of the terms of the licence or the legislation.
Mr Devenney said the Apprentice Boys have no control over who turns up at its parade and “that is down to licensing”.
“I will say when we refer to flags and what’s offensive, councillor Tierney talks about the para flag being offensive in this city, when I see paraphernalia being sold in stalls promoting the IRA and ‘Ooh Ah up the Ra’ on the back of them, that is offensive to me, so those issues have to be dealt with,” he continued.
“If we are going to deal with flags, I watched the Para flag flying in the Bogside on a bonfire where poppy wreaths were burnt.
“We find that very, very offensive yet nobody mentioned about those flags in the Bogside at the time.”
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