A Loyalist umbrella group in Stoneyford has dismissed recent controversy over poles being painted red, white and blue as nothing more than SDLP “hysteria”.
Members of a Protestant-Unionist-Loyalist Network consisting of Stoneyford Jubilee Committee, Stoneyford Loyalist Cultural Society, Pride of the Village Flute Band, Castlerobin LOL 146, Stoneyford Rangers Supporters ‘ Club and the Storeyhill Club, issued a statement vowing the community would maintain its cultural identity.
It read: “We support our cultural identity within Stoneyford. This includes flying flags during the marching season, decorating poles by painting some of them red, white and blue, maintaining the upkeep of our village war memorial all year round.
“In response to the SDLP hysteria we wish to point out poles which were worn and had paint faded were recently repainted by members from our network.
“Recent tattered flags have been removed and old poles repainted. This is something that has been happening within our village for over 30 years. This is something which we will maintain.
“A lot of positive work has been achieved within the network in Stoneyford and we will not be distracted by those who remain faceless. As for the statement from the PSNI about criminal activities (pole painting) it has been noted by the above groups about the PSNI policing priorities that many Loyalists in Lisburn city should be concerned when it comes to kerb painting etc; what’s next, flag flying on lamp posts?
“The PUL community will continue their positive work and will maintain their cultural identity.”
Meanwhile, the SDLP’s Councillor Pat Catney said he had received up to 20 complaints from residents in Stoneyford.
“This is not hysteria,” he said. “People doing this need to wise up. I have a letter from a woman who has sent her children to integrated schools and claims her health has been affected by what is going on.
“I have a letter from the DoE which stated these actions on their property will be treated as criminal damage.”