‘Burn tricolours’ UUP man quits school board

Posted By: September 07, 2016

Connla Young. Irish News (Belfast). Wednesday, September 7, 2016

A FORMER UUP election candidate has stepped down from the board of governors at a Co Antrim grammar school weeks after he claimed, “you couldn’t have enough tricolours on the bonfire”.

Antrim Grammar School confirmed last night that former governor Jim Sands “will no longer be involved in the governance of the school”.

Mr. Sands made the remarks in July – just days after Irish tricolours and election posters belonging to nationalist parties were burned on loyalist ‘Eleventh night’ bonfires across the north.

He described the tricolour as “the flag of a foreign, hostile country” and also defended the burning of election material on pyres.

Antrim Grammar School is attended by more than 700 children from both Catholic and Protestant backgrounds and has “International School” status.

It displays “welcome” signs in 31 languages in its foyer, with Irish understood to be one of them.

In July, governors at the school moved to distance themselves from his comments, while the Ulster Unionist Party also suspended him.

A spokeswoman for the school last night said the remarks made by Mr. Sands did not reflect its views.

“The Board of Governors would emphasise again that the comments made by Mr. Sands do not represent their corporate views nor do they reflect the ethos and inclusive nature of the school,” she said.

Mr. Sands has considered his position and will no longer be involved in the governance of the school.”

Mr. Sands stood for election to Antrim council in 2005 and received just 38 votes.

In a letter to newspapers last month the hardline unionist defended the burning of the tricolour.

“For my liking, you couldn’t have enough tricolours on the bonfire,” he said.

The controversy flared days after the area’s Ulster Unionist MP Danny Kinahan was criticised for tweeting a picture of himself standing in front of a bonfire topped by a tricolour.