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Flag with Paras insignia put up outside Catholic Church in Antrim

A flag bearing the Parachute Regiment insignia has been put up outside St Comgall's Church in Antrim. Picture by Hugh Russell
Connla Young

The hoisting of a flag glorifying a British army regiment outside a Catholic church in Co Antrim has been condemned.

A flag bearing the Parachute Regiment insignia has been put up on a lamppost outside St Comgall’s Church in Antrim.

Union flag bunting has also been strung across the street in front of the landmark church, which is within view of the town’s PSNI station.

The offensive flag carries the regiment’s winged insignia with the slogans “No apology” and “No surrender”.

The regiment was responsible killing 14 Catholic civilians in Derry on Bloody Sunday in January 1972.

Months earlier, in August 1971, members of the regiment also killed 11 Catholic civilians over several days in Ballymurphy in west Belfast in what became known as the Ballymurphy Massacre.

Former British Prime Minister David Cameron apologised for the Bloody Sunday killings in 2010.

The Parachute Regiment was also involved in other contentious incidents during the Troubles.

Antrim town played host to a Royal Black Institution (RBI) parade last weekend which involved up to 63 bands and 6,500 people.

Sinn Féin assembly member Declan Kearney said the putting up of the flag coincided with the parade and described it as a “deliberate attack on the memory of all innocent civilians murdered by the Parachute Regiment during the conflict”.

The MLA man said he has previously condemned the use of all flags to “intimidate and mark territory”.

“I have also clearly stated my support for the legitimate expression of all cultures and traditions where such expression is proportionate and respectful to all,” he said.

“However, the flag at St Comgall’s Church is strategically placed to cause offence and raises a question regarding how it became part of the flag display in support of the Royal Black demonstration.”

Imperial Grand Registrar of the RBI Billy Scott described the group as a “Christian organisation” that takes “no part in party politics”.

He said that “what individuals do on the ground” is beyond the control of his organisation.

“There are always people, as you known very well, prepared to take advantage of a situation to set their own agenda and the last thing they will do is consult the folk concerned,” he said.

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