Loyalist group claim Christmas tree in Magherafelt could offend 'non-Christians'

Mid Ulster District Council says it has initiated its complaints process after an objection was received from a loyalist group about the erection of a Christmas tree in Magherafelt.

Friday, 24th November 2017, 2:01 pm
Updated Wednesday, 6th December 2017, 12:47 pm
The Christmas tree being erected in Magherafelt in 2016
The Christmas tree being erected in Magherafelt in 2016

The British Truth Forum handed in letters to the council and the PSNI claiming an equality impact assessment (EQIA) had not been carried out and the tree could be offensive to non-Christians.

The Forum was behind the unsuccessful campaign to keep the Union flag pole in the centre of Magherafelt at the start of the year.

Lights on the Christmas tree at the Diamond are scheduled to be switched on tomorrow night accompanied by a fireworks display.

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Forum chairman William Lennox said in the letter that the tree should be removed as others could find it offensive to their beliefs.

"The council are well aware the town centre must remain neutral at all times," he stresses in the letter.

Mr Lennox was unavailable for comment today, but told the Irish News last night that the Forum are asking the council to relocate the tree.

“We are not saying we don’t want a Christmas tree but there are people offended by Christmas, who don’t celebrate Christmas," he said.

The Union flag on display in Magherafelt

A council spokesperson said: "We can confirm that a complaint has been received in relation to the Christmas Tree erected in Magherafelt Town Centre this week, with a query about whether there was an EQIA carried out for same. We have initiated our complaints process and it will be dealt with in due course."

The PSNI said it was a matter for the council.

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The Union flag on display in Magherafelt