Sinn Féin hits out at the DUP's Jim Wells over Union flags

The DUP's Jim Wells has complained Union flags were removed from Dundrum village. Picture by Mal McCann

SINN Féin has hit out at the DUP's Jim Wells after he claimed Union flags were removed from a Co Down village ahead of a key GAA match.

Mr Wells complained that "several youths" took down Union flags in Dundrum on Saturday.

The DUP MLA claimed the flags were removed ahead of an "important" GAA match on Sunday.

"This action was taken without any consultation with the unionist community in Dundrum and the flags were subsequently discovered in a bin on the Main Street," he said.

DUP MLA Jim Wells has hit out after Union flags were taken down in Dundrum, Co Down. Picture by Niall Carson, Press Association

Dundrum GAC's senior ladies' team made their first Ulster Championship football appearance on Sunday when they beat Armagh champions Mullabrack.

Mr Wells claimed Union flags were "being flown for longer than normal because they had previously been removed for a funeral of a young man from Dundrum who had passed away in the USA".

He said nationalists in the area should "show respect" to their unionist neighbours.

"I cannot see the logic of removing the flags of our country simply because a GAA match is being held," he said.

However, Sinn Féin councillor Willie Clarke said the flags should not be flying in late September.

"There is a lot of tension in Dundrum over flags," he said.

"Instead of complaining about this Jim Wells should be using his influence to ensure flags are taken down in a timely fashion," he said.

A Union flag flying outside Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Dundrum, Co Down. File picture by Bill Smyth

Mr Clarke said Union flags were removed along the route of the funeral cortege for Conal McKee (26), a former Dundrum GAC full back, who died suddenly in Florida in August.

However, he said shortly after the funeral two flags were put up outside Sacred Heart Catholic Church in the village.

Sinn Féin councillor Willie Clarke

Mr Clarke said businesses in the village did not support any flag being flown for long periods of time.

"Dundrum is a gateway to the Mournes - and this reflects very badly," he said.

A spokesman for Dundrum GAC declined to comment.

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