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RNU deny erecting flags in village

By Gemma Burns

The Republican Network for Unity (RNU) has dismissed claims they were behind the erection of republican flags in Glengormley over the Easter period. A spokesman for RNU said they have no knowledge of, and did not give permission to any member, to erect tricolours or the starry plough on lampposts on the Antrim Road and O’Neill Road in Glengormley.

The flags were erected over the Easter period and were also attached to lampposts outside the Children’s Hospice and St Bernard’s Church. After a request from political representatives the flag from outside the hospice was removed, but so far the other flags remain flying.

Residents in the area are said to be deeply unhappy with the flags saying they could put their homes under threat and could also give loyalists greater fuel to erect even more contentious flags than usual over the marching season.

Parish priest for the area Fr John Forsythe has called for the flags to be removed saying it is “disrespectful” to the national flag.

Although an RNU spokesman has distanced the group from the flags Sinn Féin councillor for the area Gerry O’Reilly said when those who erected the flags were approached they claimed to be from RNU.

“Residents made me aware of clusters of flags being put up in the Glengormley area at the weekend by a so called republican group,” he said.

“The flags were placed at several locations including at the Children’s Hospice and the local church against the clear wishes of this community. Along with clergy, residents and Sinn Féin party members I challenged those involved and strongly argued for the prompt removal of the flags.

“We successfully managed to get the immediate removal of the flags at the Children’s Hospice and assurances that the rest would be removed by today (Thursday).

“The group involved, RNU Republican Network For Unity have no support in this area and while Sinn Féin have little influence with these micro groups it’s the strong voice of the community and their opposition to these provocative interventions that will prevail.”

He added the flags are unwelcome when residents are already deeply opposed the proliferation of loyalist flags that adorn the area for months every summer.

“The residents of Glengormley have had to put up with a range of provocative flags for far to long. This recent addition to the flags issue is unwelcome and demonstrates contempt for the community and our national flag.”

Fr John Forsythe said the flags are not welcome in the area.

“The national flag should not be flown in this way, it is disrespectful,” he said.

A spokesman for RNU dismissed the claims their group was behind the erection of the flags.

“I can assure you, your readers and local residents that the Republican Network for Unity had no knowledge or gave permission to any RNU activists to erect flags in the Glengormley area during the past few weeks,” he said.

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