Saturday 21 October 2017

'Intimidation campaign' against hotelier for flying 'butcher's apron' Union flag

Kathy Armstrong

An Irish hotelier has vowed not to "bow down to bullies" after he was threatened for flying the Union flag.

Brendan Rohan, owner of Dunfanaghy Holiday Village at Corcreggan Mill in Donegal, was bombarded with abusive messages from people who were unhappy with the flag being displayed.

He also said that trolls are using Facebook's rating system to hurt his businesses' credibility.

Mr Rohan (64) said that flying the flag of his guests' home country is something he likes to do to help welcome them and he won't give in to intimidation.

Speaking to Independent.ie, he said: "A passerby phoned me to say he objected to the flag, which he called the 'Butcher's Apron' and went on in a very derogatory way about his country's national flag.

"I explained to him that I'm in the hospitality business and I'm not interested in politics or religion, just I like to fly the flag of my guests and on this occasion it was a surprise present for a British couple who were celebrating a special event.

Dunfanaghy Holiday Village
Dunfanaghy Holiday Village

"I've flown the Union flag like I would for any of my guests that might be here, whether they're Swiss, German, Canadian or whatever.

"Guests have been delighted to see their flag being flown here with respect and maturity, they thought it was great and I think that's the way it should be.

"That's not how it was seen by a passerby, who wasn't even one of my guests, and I don't like how they used it as an opportunity to destroy our image, we've gone from 4.9 out of 5 to 4.3 because they've continually left 1 star reviews."

Mr Rohan, who served in the Irish Army for more than 20 years, spoke about some of the comments he has been subjected to over the past week.

Brendan Rohan has vowed not to give into intimidation
Brendan Rohan has vowed not to give into intimidation

He said: "Some of them are a bit off the wall, some are pretty derogatory, one guy is trying to incite locals to break all my windows, another guy said if I fly it again there will be no more Corcreggan Mill - so I've obviously reported those to the gardai."

Some of the comments left on the Facebook page include: "The flying of the Butcher's Apron is an insult to Irish people throughout this Island and this premises should be boycotted!"

Some people have objected to the union flag being flown in Donegal (Stock)
Some people have objected to the union flag being flown in Donegal (Stock)

Another read: "Not if it was the last place on earth would I step one foot in to where they hang the Butcher's Apron, disrespect on a whole new level."

Despite this, Mr Rohan has said that he refuses to feel threatened.

He explained: "It's a little campaign of intimidation and I won't give in to it, I fully appreciate they have issues with it but I don't and none of my guests have.

"I think this is petty bully boy tactics, which I won't give in to."

He also has said that anyone who has left a poor rating should come and see the holiday accommodation - which includes B&B, a caravan park and glamping - for themselves.

Mr Rohan, who was born near Clones in Co Monaghan, said: "I'd say to the detractors to come and visit, see what we're really about and all the different types of accommodation that are available.

"Then you will see that I give pride of place to our own beautiful flag of union, representing the two main traditions on this island and peace between us.

"In fact, if anything, their campaign has backfired because I am now being inundated with email and telephone bookings by people who did not previously know about our wide range of accommodation facilities and are not only delighted to discover it but are also delighted at this confirmation of our nation's new maturity in welcoming all our guests, equally and respectfully.

"In that regard, I also display the Proclamation of the Irish Republic beside a colour print of King William of Orange, who in my mind should be the nationalist hero for many historical reasons and beside that, a montage print of a group of men who are 85 per cent Presbytarian and Church or Ireland ....  the founders of Irish Nationalism and Republicanism."

He also said that he has been uplifted by supportive messages, particularly one from a Republican man in Letterkenny who understands his reasoning.

The message read: "The freedom to nurture grievances is not the freedom that MacDiarmada, Clarke, Connolly, and the others fought and died for, nor one fit for the noble house of Pearse's heart.

"Keep it up! If you were to take it down, or stop flying it, we would be living under tyranny. We fought for freedom.

"The man who can't forgive can never be free, for in denying forgiveness to his neighbour he leaves himself burdened with his own sins."

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