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27/07/2021

WATCH: Gardai investigate burning of a Pride flag in Limerick

LIMERICK gardai are investigating the burning of a Pride flag outside City Hall and the courthouse in Merchant's Quay.

The rainbow flag was seen smouldering on the ground by Sean McIlfatrick at around 4.30pm on Monday. He was walking from the city side to a friend's house at the time.

"I saw something on the ground. Then I realised it was the Pride flag. I was taken aback.

"I'm gay and have marched in Pride for years. I was surprised and upset," said Sean, who describes it as a "hate crime".

The Thomondgate man took a video of the flag burning. The perpetrator must have fled seconds before Sean arrived as it was still alight.

"There wasn't a sinner around. The courthouse was locked up and City Hall was closing up. I came from the city side so they must have ran off up the steps towards St Augustine Place," he said.

Sean, who is aged in his early 50s, thinks it was somebody making "their own little attention seeking statement". The rainbow flag is a symbol of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) and queer pride and LGBT social movements.

"They did it in front of City Hall and the courthouse and Limerick Pride was just launched on Sunday," said Sean. The incident follows flags being taken down and set alight at Waterford City and County Council's buildings last month.

He said he initially felt surprised because Pride has been going on in Limerick for years with no negative incidents.

"There are the few people who pray when we march but we take them with a pinch of salt. This did feel like an attack.

"I've sent the video to a few friends and they all said it was disgusting," said Sean, who reported it to gardai in Mayorstone this Tuesday morning. He said the gardai were very helpful and will investigate it.

A garda spokesperson said they are investigating an incident of criminal damage by fire which occurred in Merchant's Quay.

"No injuries were reported. No arrests have been made," said the garda spokesperson.

A spokesperson for Limerick City and County Council said it is "very disappointing that this type of incident has happened in Limerick".

"Whether it is just plain loutish behaviour or something more sinister, it is totally unacceptable. It has no place in a Limerick that is accepting, welcoming and embraces our differences.

"Whoever is responsible should apologise and present themselves to the gardaí, who are investigating," said the council spokesperson.

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