Loyalist ‘Welcome’ banner removed

Thing of the past: The 'Welcome to loyalist Ballyclare' banner. INNT 21-037-PSB
Thing of the past: The 'Welcome to loyalist Ballyclare' banner. INNT 21-037-PSB

A “divisive” banner welcoming people to “loyalist Ballyclare” has been downed by safety and insurance issues, the Times has learned

The banner, which included a number of flags and the oft repeated “culture before cash” phrase used by loyalists, was suspended over one of the main junctions at the bottom of the town’s Main Street ahead of last week’s Ballyclare May Fair and Community Relations Week.

The move, blamed on paramilitaries, sparked outrage among residents, business people and elected representatives.

South Antrim MLA David Ford described the banner as both “unacceptable” and “divisive”.

However, by Friday (May 24) the banner was brought down by the Roads Service because of the danger it posed to passing motorists.

The Times has learned that because of safety concerns and insurance issues, those who erected the banner did not want to be held accountable for any claim against them, it has remained down.

One man told the Times he contacted the Roads Service over the banner.

He said: “A rope connecting the banner to the lamppost had come off and it was swinging about.

“It posed a real danger to anyone passing underneath it and had it come down, it could have smashed a window or caused a car to crash.”

The Times understands that those who erected the banner were informed that they required liability insurance to protect themselves from a claim of fault should the banner cause an accident.

It’s thought those that put it up were unable to get the required insurance to allow the banner to be strung back up.

A Roads Service spokeswoman said: “Roads Service discourages the unofficial use of any of its property.

“The unauthorised erection of signage such as banners is not uncommon and takes place in a number of areas across Northern Ireland. Should Roads Service receive complaints about such incidents, they will be fully investigated.

“Any signage that creates a hazard for the public, including road users, is dealt with as a matter of priority.

“Investigations into incidents of this nature usually involves consultation with the local community and other stakeholders to determine the most practical way forward.”