There has been widespread condemnation of two instances in which LGBTQ+ flags were removed from The Mall in Waterford City.
A man in his 40s had been charged earlier last week after the first incident in which Pride flags were taken down and burnt from outside Waterford City & County Council’s offices on The Mall, over the June Bank Holiday Weekend. The man is due to appear at Waterford District Court on July 6th.
The flags, which had been raised in Waterford City by Mayor of Waterford Cllr. Damien Geoghegan (Fine Gael) on Friday June 4th, had been found discarded and charred in a nearby bin.
A ceremony was held on Wednesday last to re-instate the flags. Mayor Geoghegan said it was crucial that the flags be flown again to show that Waterford remains a warm and inclusive place to live.
However, late on Friday evening/early Saturday morning, the flags were again cut down and removed from the flagpoles.
In a statement on social media, the Mayor condemned another ‘truly despicable act’, which is now in the hands of the Gardaí.
Mayor Geoghegan confirmed that the flags will be re-flown as the Council will refuse to bow to these acts.
Local LGBTQ+ campaigners expressed disgust following the incidents, while many politicians also condemned the acts. As a result, many businesses and homes across Waterford took it upon themselves to adorn the LGBTQ+ Pride flag from their premises, to mark June, which is celebrated globally as Pride Month.
Speaking to the Munster Express, Labour Party Councillor Seamus Ryan praised Mayor Geoghegan for his strong condemnation of the incidents. At the June Plenary meeting of Waterford City & County Council, Cllr. Ryan made the suggestion that Waterford should declare itself an LGBTQ+ Freedom Zone, as many cities across Europe have done in recent years.
It comes after the European Union did so in March. The resolution declares that “LGBTIQ persons everywhere in the EU should enjoy the freedom to live and publicly show their sexual orientation and gender identity without fear of intolerance, discrimination or persecution”.
It adds that “authorities at all levels of governance across the EU should protect and promote equality and the fundamental rights of all, including LGBTIQ persons”.
Cllr. Ryan feels that Waterford should follow suit and strike home the message that Waterford remains a warm inclusive place for the LGBTQ+ community, despite recent events.