A Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) councillor has posted a mocked up image of a terrorist group’s flag raised outside 10 Downing Street.
In an apparent celebration of his party’s prospective role in government, Ian Stevenson posted the picture of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) flag flying next to the Prime Minister’s residence.
“Few changes made in Downing Street today,” the former mayor of Ballymoney wrote next to the image, according to The Belfast Telegraph who first reported the post.
The UVF is classified as a terrorist organisation by the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland and United States.
After its formation in 1966, the loyalist paramilitary group issued a statement saying it declared war against the Irish Republican Army and its splinter groups.
“Known IRA men will be executed mercilessly and without hesitation,” it said. “Less extreme measures will be taken against anyone sheltering or helping them, but if they persist in giving them aid, then more extreme methods will be adopted.”
It went on to kill hundreds of people.
Mr Stevenson, who is a councillor for Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, told The Independent: “I honestly don’t know why it’s a story. It wasn’t intentional. It didn’t mean anything.”
In a separate interview with The Belfast Telegraph, he claimed to have mistaken the UVF flag for that of a Protestant fraternal society, the Apprentice Boys of Derry.
The latter is red, with a logo featuring cannons at its centre. The UVF flag is purple, with an orange border, a St George’s Cross in one corner, and the letters “U. V. F.” emblazoned in orange diagonally across it.
The councillor has since deleted the image from his Facebook page. The Independent has approached the DUP for comment about the post, but none had arrived at the time of publication.
Mr Stevenson posted the image as talks continued by members of the DUP’s parliamentary party and senior Tories, about an agreement which would keep Theresa May’s minority government in power.
The Northern Irish party’s 10 parliamentary seats would give the prime minister a majority of three. Despite some claiming otherwise, Downing Street was forced to retract a statement suggesting an arrangement of “confidence and supply” had been outlined.
DUP leader Arlene Foster nonetheless said the party had held “good discussions” with the Conservatives on how they could support them in the formation of a government, after Theresa May failed to retain her majority in the Commons.
The Conservatives have been criticised for trying to strike a deal with the party, which holds controversial views on a number of social issues.
The DUP opposes same-sex marriage and is anti-abortion, as well as pro-criminalisation of abortion remains illegal in Northern Ireland, except in specific medical cases.
Some have claimed that the DUP could destabilise the peace process in Northern Ireland, since the UK Government must maintain a neutral position between the nationalists and the unionists in accordance with the Good Friday agreement.
Ireland’s Prime Minister Enda Kenny has warned Ms May that any arrangement with the DUP must not compromise the accord.
Join our commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies