Wells Responds To Sinn Féin Over Flags Issue

“I feel sorry for the staff of Down District Council. They have worked tirelessly for 25 years to create a  St Patrick’s Day parade where the entire community felt welcome. How Northern Ireland celebrates the life of our patron saint has always been a very difficult issue which has created controversy from Londonderry to Newry. Down Council had uniquely solved this long standing problem only to see their efforts severely damaged by one irresponsible councillor on a solo run. “Why were Sinn Fein councillors more than happy to march behind the flag of Saint Patrick for a quarter of a century without a single word of protest ? Indeed when Willie Clarke was Chairman of the Council he actually led the parade surrounded by flags which we are now told are unacceptable. I must also ask why the ‘subversive’ nature of this flag was only discovered a leading academic a few weeks before the crucial elections? [caption id="attachment_21773" align="alignleft" width="200" caption="DUP Councillors South Down MLA Jim Wells and Willima Dick pictured moments before the St Patrick Parade got under way for 2011 in Downpatrick. "][/caption] “It was also very noticeable that Micky Coogan and Willie Clarke were both clearly very uneasy with their colleague’s conduct. There were no ringing endorsements of his decision to create so much offence. Councillor Clarke could have declared that he was 100% behind his colleague but he was very careful to distance himself from the decision to fly the tricolour. “Many Down residents will also want to know why councillor McConvery suddenly took a vow of silence when approached by the media in the days leading up to the parade? Could it be that even the Sinn Fein headquarter staff in Connolly House realized that the stunt was a  public realtions disaster for the party and told their turbulent councillor to shut up? “It is known that 200 pupils from seven schools, a vintage vehicle club and at least one band decided not to take part in the parade because of McConvey’s decision, and there was a clear lack of representatives from the Unionist community amongst the spectators. The media  interviewed vsitors to the town to find out their views on the tricolour flying stunt but what really matters are the opinions of the many people who did not turn up at all on March 17th. “I have no doubt that had it not been for the intransigence of one  loose cannon councillor this problem could have been solved long before 17th March and it is vital that all responsible public representatives get round the table as soon as possible to repair the damage to Down District’s image”.]]>