UUP refuses to reveal action against suspended member over Irish tricolor remarks
Posted By: February 16, 2017
“It is a peaceful way of young people expressing your displeasure at someone’s politics.”
Connla Young. Irish News. Belfast. Thursday, February 16, 2017
THE Ulster Unionist Party has refused to reveal what action has been taken against a party member suspended after he voiced support for the burning of Irish tricolors on loyalist bonfires.
Jim Sands made the remarks after tricolors and nationalist election posters were burned on ‘Eleventh night’ bonfires across the north last July.
He described the tricolor as “the flag of a foreign, hostile country” and also defended the burning of election material on pyres.
“What is the problem burning Republic of Ireland flags? For some the tricolor is seen as the flag of a hostile foreign country,” he said.
“Even today that country still claims jurisdiction over Northern Ireland and interferes in the affairs of Northern Ireland at every opportunity.
“For my liking you couldn’t have enough tricolors on the bonfire.”
Mr. Sands, who stood for election to Antrim council in 2005 and received just 38 votes, also justified the burning of election posters.
“It is a peaceful way of young people expressing your displeasure at someone’s politics especially for someone too young to vote,” he said.
Days after he made the comments the UUP confirmed publicly it had suspended Mr. Sands from the party.
However, when asked about the status of Mr. Sands this week a spokesman said: “We don’t comment on individual party business”.
Mr. Sands, who had been a board of governors at Antrim Grammar School, which is attended by more than 700 children from both Catholic and Protestant backgrounds and has ‘International School’ status, later resigned the post.
At the time the school said the UUP politician’s comments did “not represent their corporate views nor do they reflect the ethos and inclusive nature of the school”.
The controversy came after the area’s Ulster Unionist MP Danny Kinahan was criticized for tweeting a picture of himself standing in front of a bonfire topped by a tricolor.
He later apologized saying it was an error of judgment.