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Defiance Galway Pride Chair says 'we won’t be frightened back into the closet' after flag is stolen

'It’s almost becoming a very sad annual ritual'

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The damaged pole in Eyre Square (pic Galway Pride Twitter)

The damaged pole in Eyre Square (pic Galway Pride Twitter)

The damaged pole in Eyre Square (pic Galway Pride Twitter)

The chairperson of the Galway Pride Committee, Cllr Owen Hanley, has said they wanted to send a message that “we won’t be frightened back into the closet” after the Pride flag was stolen during festivities. 

For the third year in a row, the flag was stolen but this time the pole in Eyre Square was damaged in what organisers believe was a group act of vandalism.

However, activists returned to the Square where they took pictures of themselves bearing ten flags to replace it in a symbolic act of defiance.

At this stage it would almost be surprising if the flag was not a target, Cllr Owen Hanley said, according to the Connaught Tribune.

Unfortunately, he said, it reflects the negativity that the LGBT+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual) community continues to attract among some sections of society.

“We couldn’t raise it again because of the damaged pole, but we still wanted to send the message that won’t be frightened back into the closet – we’re here, we’re queer and we’re not going anywhere,” the Social Democrats has been quoted as saying.

According to the Tribune, gardaí are trawling through CCTV in a bid to identify those responsible following a complaint by Cllr Hanley.

However, because of the positions of cameras, previous attempts to catch the flag thieves have been unsuccessful.

“It’s my feeling this took more than one person as the pole was very steady,” Cllr Hanley said.

“That’s the only surprising thing about this. It happened a few times in 2019 and twice last year. It’s almost becoming a very sad annual ritual.”

Galway Pride tweeted: “Eyre Square flag stolen and the pole damaged yet again. We will not be deterred or frightened back into the dark. Pride continues as protest and celebration.

Green Party TD for Waterford, Marc Ó Cathasaigh TD, also tweeted: “We had the same sh*te down here. Keep putting them up!!

In June, an iconic local landmark in Waterford known as Mount Misery was transformed into a symbol of Pride as it has been painted in bright rainbow colours.

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The rock was given a magnificent makeover to mark to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community after recent series of disturbing incidents in the town.

Locals had highlighted another act of “homophobic hate” in the city where Pride flags that were replaced after being burnt in an alleged arson attack were cut down.

In a Twitter post one person attached a picture of a poster in a window depicting a man and a woman in wedding outfits with the words, “It’s natural, it’s worked for thousands of year. And you can make babies.”

The tweeter added: “Homophobic hate on show in Waterford City again tonight - covered the place in ‘straight pride’ posters. This follows the burning of a Pride flag and the cutting down of the replacement Pride flag in just over a week. #Pride

Earlier in the month, flags that had been erected to mark “Pride of the Déise” - a celebration of the LGBTQ community in the county were removed for the second time in a week.

The flags, which were located outside the Menapia Building, on The Mall, replaced those that had been previously burnt overnight.

However, Éadaoin Breathnach of the Pride of the Deise Committee told the Waterford News & Star that they had had “great engagement locally and nationally with our events and virtual parade”.

“Flying the flag on The Mall with the Mayor was one of our first activities to open the festival and this act of flying the rainbow flag is important for many reasons,” Éadaoin said.

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