A republican flag which appeared flying high on a mast belonging to a former RUC station, has been removed.

The Starry Plough flag had been erected within the grounds of the disused station in Maghera on Monday last.

In recent years, the Starry Plough has been a symbol for various republican groups including the IRSP and INLA.

The former Police Station, on the Coleraine Road, was closed last year as part of a cost saving exercise rolled out by the PSNI due to continuing budgetary restraints.

Following the flag’s erection, Mid Ulster DUP MLA, Keith Buchanan hit out, stating that those responsible had erected the flag to ‘raise tensions’ and ‘intimidate’ the local Unionist community.

Mr Buchanan said: “The starry plough flag which is linked to the INLA. This is exactly the type of activity which is not wanted by the community here.

“There is a clear message being sent to the Maghera community by those responsible. By carrying out this act, they are seeking to raise tensions and intimidate the Unionist community. The INLA created terror and devastation in our communities through their terrorist campaign and this promotion of their activity will not be tolerated,” he said.

The DUP man continued: “This is an embarrassing and clear breach of security, as those responsible were able to gain access to the police station and erect this flag from inside the grounds. They have furthermore committed a crime in trespassing on property owned by the Policing Board of Northern Ireland. Questions have to be answered as to how individuals were able to succeed in doing this?

“I have been engaging with the police on this issue. It is the responsibility of the PSNI to ensure the flag is removed and I am pleased that they have given assurances that it will be remove as soon as possible,” he said.

The flag has since been removed from the mast.  However at this time, the PSNI had failed to comment on the matter.

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