Confederate flag is taken down

Building the Ballymacash bonfire gets underway. US1527-574cd  Picture: Cliff Donaldson
Building the Ballymacash bonfire gets underway. US1527-574cd Picture: Cliff Donaldson

A Confederate flag, which had been erected close to the bonfire in Ballymacash, has been removed by local community workers.

Lisburn Councillor Stephen Martin had expressed grave concern about the flying of the flag, which is viewed by many as a racist statement, as it was the flag flown by the Southern troops who fought during the American Civil War to retain slavery.

The flag has been banned in South Carolina after it was linked to the gunman who killed nine people in a church in Charleston last month.

There was also outrage after the Confederate flag, together with a Nazi flag, was flown in Carrickfergus this week.

Speaking about the appearance of the Confederate flag in Lisburn, Mr Martin said: “We should just call a spade a spade - whoever put up Confederate flags around Lisburn earlier this week are either clueless about its symbolism especially in the United States where it is widely viewed as a throwback to the days of slavery or simply intent on dragging Lisburn backwards.

“What is most troubling is that the very recent publicity around the Confederate flag had been generated by one person’s senseless killing of nine churchgoers including their minister in South Carolina just two weeks ago having sat in the church and witnessed their worship before committing his callous murders.

“Why would anyone here in Lisburn want to be associated with such an outrageous and hateful act?

“Do they understand what it is they are linking themselves to or do they simply not care?

“The only conclusion that can be drawn is that those responsible want to say that Lisburn is not open to all and quite frankly that is a step too far.

“They do not represent me or the vast majority of my constituents and we all have a responsibility to challenge this type of activity.

“Those responsible should be brave enough to debate their views publicly rather than hide behind someone else’s flag damaging community relations in the process.

“The Confederate flag has limited if any association with cultural or historical expression here so it is beyond ironic that today the South Carolina Senate voted to take theirs down while thousands of miles away in Lisburn of all places someone thought they would do the opposite.

“Leaving aside the negative message this is iclearly intended to send out our response should be crystal clear - no Confederate flags in Lisburn.”

Lisburn Councillor Alexander Redpath said he had been working earlier in the week to have the flag taken down and was pleased to learn that it had been removed ahead of the Twelfth celebrations next week.

“I don’t see what relevance the Confederate battle flag has to the July celebrations,” said Mr Redpath.

“I believe it has deeply unsavoury connotations and I am pleased that the community has worked together to resolve this issue.”