Tricolours stolen at North West 200

The tricolour and other national flags during a previous north west event
Connla Young

IRISH tricolours were removed on three separate occasions from a spectator grandstand at last week's North West 200, it has emerged.

Director of the north-west event Mervyn Whyte last night confirmed the Irish national flag had been removed and had to be replaced three times during last week's event.

The flag was included in a line-up of other national flags at the annual race meeting on the north coast which attracts tens of thousand of spectators every year from home and abroad.

Mr White, who said he would lay on extra security next year if necessary to avoid a repeat of what happened, said the flag had to be replaced - including on Saturday, which was the biggest day of the race meeting.

The event director said the tricolour was among national flags from 22 countries to be flown at last week's race meeting.

“They are utter vandals and it really annoyed me,” he said.

Mr Whyte, who said he reported the matter to police, described his organisation as “neutral” and promised the tricolour will be flown at next year's event.

“We will not be defeated and if I have to park security there I will to ensure the flag stays up.”

East Derry assembly member John Dallat said it was “highly embarrassing that the national flag of any country was taken down".

“This is not the atmosphere I experienced at the North West 200 when people from all over the world were there and many from the Republic of Ireland spending their money in the local hotels and restaurants.”

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