Multiple thefts of Galway's Pride flag thought to be motivated by homophobia

Councillor Owen Hanley is pushing for the Government to bring in hate crime law following two incidents of the Pride flag in Galway being stolen.

Councillor Owen Hanley holding a rainbow flag with the Galway Pride committee, AMACH! LGBT+ board, and the wider community.

Galway councillor Owen Hanley is urging the Government to bring in “overdue and necessary” hate crime law to “protect the freedoms” of LGBT+ people and ethnic minorities following two incidents of Galway’s Pride flag being stolen in Eyre Square. 

The Pride flag was raised on August 12 signalling the beginning of the Galway Pride festivities. Since then, it has been stolen twice, and there have been a further four attempts to steal Galway’s Pride flag at the 126 Gallery in Woodquay, with the last attempt succeeding. 

Speaking to the Galway Advertiser, Social Democrats Cllr Hanley said, “The first attempt was during Leaving Cert results night, so we just figured it was reckless behaviour, but the fourth time in the space of a week is a targeted attack and an attempt to intimidate the community.”

Cllr Hanley is Galway’s first openly gay man elected councillor and a member of Galway Pride committee. Following the recent string of thefts, Cllr Hanley stated, “we are a strong and resilient community and we will not take this sitting down.” 

As highlighted by the ‘Burning Issues 2’ survey, a hate crime law is the number one priority for the LGBT+ community in post-marriage equality Ireland. Tweeting about his recent interview with the Galway Advertiser, Cllr Hanley said, “Bigotry and hate is a reality for too many people too often. Local Gardai often try their best to help but hate crime legislation is a tool they need the government to act on.”

During the interview, Cllr Owen Hanley said, “I absolutely do not want to overstate this, but homophobic incidents happen in Galway. They happen a lot. […] If you were watching the Pride parade last Saturday and listening to the chants you might think, ‘They’re an angry bunch’, but this is why. A lot of people do not know this kind of thing is happening in their city.”

Over 2,000 people attended this year’s Galway Pride Parade, the largest number in its 30 year history. The Galway City Council also signed last week an agreement with AMACH! to provide funding for Teach Solais LGBT+ resources.

© 2019 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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