The burning of a Pride flag in Carlow outside an award-winning cafe has been branded as an “act of violence” by support groups.
Numerous businesses and homes have been flying the rainbow flag in a bid to mark Pride month of support for those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.
Earlier this month, several Pride flags were burned outside Waterford city’s Menapia Building on The Mall. The act was condemned by numerous public representatives including the city mayor, Damien Geoghegan. Gardaí are continuing to investigate the flag burning.
Staff at Cafe de Mode in Ballon, Co Carlow turned up for work on Sunday morning to discover their flag had been taken down and burned.
Dave and Miriam Lloyd put up the flag on Saturday to show their support for Pride, as is their tradition since Carlow’s first Pride festival took place three years ago. They were horrified to discover that the flag had been ripped down and set on fire.
“It’s upsetting to think that this happened. I never thought that I’d have to take the flag in at night, when the café was closed, especially in a little village like Ballon,” Mr Lloyd told The Carlow Nationalist.
A post on the cafe's social media account said: “It’s a sad day when we arrive at work and find the remains of our pride flag on the ground. Prejudice is obviously alive in Ballon.”
They added: “We were shocked. We have a pride flag out every year and we are a very inclusive community. I don’t know why that occurred. We were really shocked and absolutely disgusted of the small mindlessness of people. Maybe it’s some one who has an issue or is it just youngsters?
“For someone to destroy our belongings is unacceptable. The flag was burned and the remains were left outside the premises. We don’t know who this is or who the people are. We’ve had that flag outside this premises for the past three to four years and this has never happened before. We are just lost for words.”
Representatives from the LGBT+ community have been condemning the action and pointing out how vital it is for those struggling with their sexuality to know that support is there from their peers and those in their own areas.
John Paul Payne, chairperson of Carlow Pride Festival speaking on local radio station KCLRfm said that these acts have a “counterproductive effect” of what is trying to be achieved by doing these “senseless acts”.
“We are well used to people (and their views), it makes us much more stronger as a unit. It’s going to have to be a bigger and brighter festival next year. It doesn’t hurt but it’s disappointing.”
“This act of violence against such a peaceful symbol would hurt (some). Carlow is a very resilient community. A small minority carry out these senseless acts.
“We have always followed flag protocol. We wait to be asked by local representatives and businesses to fly the flag and don’t want to push it down people’s necks. All we are saying is that we want the world to be better than it was before.”
Rebecca Harold from Translife Kilkenny added: “It makes us very sad but stronger and makes us join as a community more. Pride is all about us joining as a community to support your fellow human beings not to do what has been done”.