Newtownabbey Ulster Unionist Councillor Mark Cosgrove has expressed his disappointment at comments by the DUP’s South Antrim MLA Paul Girvan earlier today, in which he said that he had “no problem” with the burning of Tricolours on bonfires.
Councillor Cosgrove said:
“I was surprised and disappointed at Paul Girvan's comments. They were totally wrong on so many levels. At the outset, we in the Ulster Unionist Party believe it is totally disrespectful to any sovereign country to condone burning or defacing their flag.
The Republic of Ireland is our nearest neighbour and Northern Ireland's single largest export market. Thousands of jobs are dependent on those economic links. After the Ulster Unionist Party negotiated the end of articles 2 and 3, the conditions were created whereby we now we enjoy the best Anglo Irish relations in many generations as was evident in the tremendous welcome which Her Majesty the Queen received on her visit to the Republic in May 2011.
The United Kingdom is one of the most culturally diverse nations in the world. The Irish community is a very important part of that rich tapestry. I know Paul well and I have no doubt that he will regret his comments and I welcome his retraction of his comments. Tolerance and mutual respect for diversity is the only way forward for us all.”