Northern Irish police investigates ‘Arabic’ European Union flag


European Union flag

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Ulster resident calls police over ‘Arabic emblem’ that turns out to be EU flag

Police confirm that they investigated misguided complaint against flag flown to mark Europe’s Ryder Cup triumph

Henry McDonald, Ireland correspondent

Monday 29 September 2014 20.04 BST

A resident of Rory McIlroy’s hometown in Northern Ireland complained to the police about an EU flag erected to mark Europe’s Ryder Cup triumph because they thought it was an Arabic emblem, it has emerged.

And let us suppose it would have been a real Arabic flag. Would that have been an indicator of crime which police need to investigate?

The Police Service of Northern Ireland confirmed on Monday evening that they had to investigate a complaint against the yellow stars and blue background of the EU banner in Holywood, County Down.

The man who put up the EU flag, to celebrate Europe defeating the United States at Gleneagles, revealed on Facebook earlier on Monday that two police officers turned up at his door in the town now synonymous with McIlroy.

He posted on Facebook: “Right in shock here. Had a Ryder Cup party yesterday and just had the police round … as apparently it’s caused offence.

“Apparently person who complained thought it was an Arabic flag.”

The PSNI said its officers had become involved following the complaint.

A PSNI spokesman said: “Police in Holywood attended an address in the Woodlands area yesterday following the report from a member of the public that a flag they believed to be offensive had been erected. Police attended and no offence was detected.”

The EU flag-waving golf fan at the centre of the investigation did not want to be named but described the complaint as crazy. He said he told the PSNI at his house that the flag was flying in honour of the European golf team and particularly Ulster golfing stars McIlory and Graeme McDowell.

Local councillor for the non-sectarian Alliance party and former North Down mayor Andrew Muir said the complaint should be placed in the category of “you couldn’t make it up” stories.

Muir said: “It’s rather depressing that we would be focused upon flags. People are entitled to fly whatever legal flag they want from their house and in Northern Ireland we need to be able to celebrate our success and the European flag is an open, inclusive symbol of Europe coming together.”

The flying of flags is a contentious issue in Northern Ireland, none more so than in Belfast. For the last two years there have been Ulster loyalist protests at the gates of Belfast City Hall because the local council voted to restrict the flying of the union flag.

Until the end of 2012 Belfast city council flew the union flag atop the dome of City Hall 365 days per year. Nationalist and republican councillors tried to ban the flying of the flag entirely but a compromise was hit upon whereby the red, white and blue would be flown on 18 designated days including the Queen’s two birthdays.

Protests in the months just after the flag policy changed resulted in riots and dozens of arrests.

Save Europe’s vultures and eagles


This video says about itself:

11 February 2013

This video tells the story of a poisoned Bonelli’s Eagle that was rehabilitated in North Cyprus by a group of local conservationists who have been tracking the status of the species in their country.

From BirdLife:

By Luca Bonaccorsi, Thu, 25/09/2014 – 14:59

After months of wrestling, the European Commission has given mandate to the European Medicines Agency (EMA) to assess the risks to vulture populations of the use of veterinary medicines containing diclofenac. This represents a major breakthrough and opens the door for the European ban of the killer drug that wiped out entire vulture populations in Asia. BirdLife International and the Vulture Conservation Foundation appeal to all parties involved to submit scientific evidence to the EMA by 10 October 2014.

Diclofenac is a veterinary anti-inflammatory drug that kills vultures and eagles – in India it caused a 99% decline of a number of vulture species there, before eventually being banned in four countries in the region. Quite incredibly, veterinary diclofenac has now been allowed to be used on farm animals in Europe – in Estonia, Italy and Spain for cattle, pigs and horses, and in the Czech Republic and Latvia for horses only. The drug has been marketed by an Italian company named FATRO, and was allowed using loopholes in the EU guidelines to assess risk of non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs.

The European Medicines Agency has now opened a public consultation on the matter, directed at all professional bodies with information about scavenging birds, veterinary practices and the disposal of animal by-products. With this decision, the European Commission acknowledges the facts raised by BirdLife International and the Vulture Conservation Foundation, who are leading an international campaign to ban veterinary diclofenac in Europe.

José Tavares, Executive Director of the VCF states: “It is impossible to leave this drug out there, and it’s the time for the EU to acknowledge the reality on the ground in countries like Italy and Spain. Even if there was a strict veterinary prescription system – and this is not the case – it would still be impossible for the veterinary managing the drug to oversee the disposal of all the dead animals. In Spain when pigs, lambs and goats die in open fields they are often reached by vultures even before farmers are aware of it.”

Iván Ramírez, Head of Conservation for Europe and Central Asia at BirdLife International says: “We welcome the decision, and thank our BirdLife Partners and supporters. Our vulture experts are working on our reply to EMA, but it is crucial that we take any single opportunity to call for the immediate ban of this product. There are safe alternatives and we have already seen how dangerous veterinary diclofenac is for vultures. We won’t stop until a European ban is implemented”.

This video is called Stop Vulture Poisoning Now.

New research published by a Spanish-British-American team in Conservation Biology documents a suspected flunixin poisoning of a wild Eurasian griffon vulture from Spain: here.