Parachute Regiment flags doctored with slogans “glorifying the Bloody Sunday massacre” were erected in Cookstown town centre at the weekend, a Sinn Fein councillor has said.
John McNamee said he has received “a large number of complaints” about the flags and has called for their immediate removal.
“While I’m aware that similar flags have been erected elsewhere, those erected in Cookstown have a more sinister message on them,” Councillor McNamee said.
“The flags I have seen have the message ‘Londonderry 1972 No Surrender’ emblazoned on them which is an obvious reference to the Bloody Sunday massacre carried out by the Parachute Regiment in Derry on 30th January 1972.”
He continued: “This is a deliberate act to cause further trauma and distress to the families of those murdered on that day.
“In my opinion the erection of these flags is a hate crime and I am calling for their immediate removal.
“I am also calling on the PSNI to investigate those responsible for this hate crime as these flags were erected in full view of the town’s CCTV cameras.”
Parachute Regiment flags have been erected in a number of areas of Northern Ireland after it was announced that an ex-para known only as ‘Soldier F’ is to be prosecuted for the murder of James Wray and William McKinney; and for the attempted murders of Joseph Friel, Michael Quinn, Joe Mahon and Patrick O’Donnell.
It is understood Parachute Regiment veterans and former soldiers from other regiments are planning to boycott the annual cenotaph remembrance parade in protest at the prosecution of Soldier F – a man now aged in his 70s.