South Antrim MLA Paul Girvan has responded to criticism of comments he made during a radio interview this week about the burning of the Irish tricolour on July 11 bonfires.
“I’ve no problem about burning of a tricolour on top of a bonfire, let’s be honest. I’m not going to make any apologies for that. That is the flag of a foreign country as far as I’m concerned,” the DUP man told Frank Mitchell on his U105 radio show on Thursday, June 27.
His comments sparked criticism from fellow South Antrim MLA David Ford, who said he was “dismayed” by the DUP man’s views.
“People are entitled to celebrate their culture, however they should not seek to offend others,” he said.
However, speaking to the Times today, Mr Girvan stressed that burning the tricolour on Eleventh Night bonfires is not acceptable.
“It is not acceptable to burn the flag of any country and I did sate that,” he said. “But there was a time when it was seen as acceptable to some people as the Irish Republic was trying to put a claim over Northern Ireland and burning the flag was a response to that.”
Mr Girvan said that the burning of the Irish tricolour is a practice which has taken place at loyalist bonfires for many years, but stressed that he would not encourage the burning of the flag of any country.