The Glebeside estate in Ballymoney, like many other estates and towns throughout Northern Ireland, erected a banner in support of Soldier F several weeks ago above one of the entrances into the estate. BUT its replacement today has been called ‘intimidatory and offensive’ by local Sinn Fein MLA.
Since it’s original erection, the banner had become damaged and today (21st June) the banner was replace by several individuals. While it was being replace, several officers of the PSNI arrived and stated that a ‘complaint had been made by a member of the public’, according to Ballymoney UPRG Facebook page.
Despite the police presence, the erection of the replacement banner was not prevented by the officers and went ahead much to the anger of Sinn Fein MLA for North Antrim, Philip McGuigan, who said;
“A controversial banner supporting ‘Soldier F’, the former British soldier facing murder charges in connection with Bloody Sunday, was erected in Ballymoney today.This banner is right outside the Jobs and Benefits Office on John Street, which is used by all sections of the community.It is clearly intimidatory and offensive, particularly to those who have lost loved ones as a result of state violence.Several police officers stood by and watched while this banner was put up.I am requesting an urgent meeting with the PSNI to demand answers as to why police officers stood by and did not intervene while this banner was erected.”
Ballymoney UPRG also responded to the replacement of the banner, posting the following on their Facebook page.
“Another day in Glebeside, another opportunity for police harrassment, while members of the community were in the process of erecting a new Soldier F banner at the entrance of the estate to replace one which had been damaged.
Members of the harassment squad arrived and informed those community members that a complaint had been made by a member of the public, no doubt this complaint was made by an intolerant republican sympathiser working in a nearby building, they asked if permission had been granted by the relevant authorities before the erection of said banner, they were informed that whether permission had been granted or not they had no power within the law to remove it to which they agreed.
So they were basically wasting both their time and that of those present, maybe some councillors could answer if permission is needed when erecting banners for events such as the Ballymoney Show or Milk Cup, or indeed if those in the republican ghetto of Rasharkin have been granted permission to place their foreign flags and republican filth throughout the village.
One thing for the police and others to consider is whether or not they’d rather see a banner which can be taken back down or the message of support painted along the length of the wall on John Street or on the gables of houses in the area?”