Mayor blocks bid to remove flag from art

A loyalist flag still draped around the public art in Portadown.
A loyalist flag still draped around the public art in Portadown.

Sinn Fein attempts to have a loyalist flag removed from one of the public art pieces in Portadown have failed after the intervention of the Mayor.

Craigavon Borough Council says it has received a number of complaints regarding flags and emblems on the new statues at Jervis Street.

And at a recent meeting of the SPACE Steering Group, proposals by Sinn Fein requesting that officers take steps to remove the flags was blocked by the Mayor, Councillor Colin McCusker.

Sinn Fein Cllrs Paul Duffy and Tommy O’Connor proposed that “in terms of community engagement” officers should work to remove the flags from the new art figures.

However, the Mayor ruled that this item was outside the remit of this committee and did not put the proposal to the floor.

A Craigavon Borough Council spokesperson said: “There have been a number of formal complaints made to Council regarding this matter and these are currently being investigated. To date, council has not issued any instruction to remove these from the public art.”

It is understood a total of eight formal complaints have been received by Craigavon Council.

The monument at the Northway junction close to Jervis Street was erected just a few months ago and has already become a popular meeting spot.

However, one local woman contacted the Portadown Times more than a month ago to voice her disgust at the materials covering part of the monument.

She said she and others regularly went to have lunch at the monument as she works in the area, but since the flag and sash were erected she feels intimidated. “There is painting on the wall, ‘loyalists only’, and now with the Union flag on the lady and the sash on the man, I feel Catholics are not welcome at the monument.

“It has made most people feel intimidated. I pay 40 per cent in tax and I feel as if I am entitled to enjoy this monument like anyone else. I do not pay my taxes for any flags, Union Jack or Tricolour.”