Police are investigating after Pride flags were lowered and burned on Sunday night in Waterford City.
The rainbow flags were destroyed roughly 48 hours after being raised outside of the Menapia Building on The Mall in Waterford City on June 4 to mark the beginning of the second annual Pride of the Déise event, a celebration of the LGBT community.
Damien Geoghegan, the Mayor of Waterford, slammed the incident on social media on Monday morning: “I’m sure you’re all aware by now that June is Gay Pride month.
“People often ask, 'Why does Pride take place?,' 'Why is Pride celebrated?'
“Last night in Waterford someone went to the trouble of lowering the Pride Flags from their flagpoles on The Mall. They then proceeded to set fire to them and burn them to a cinder.
“I won’t be deterred and it’s my intention to replace those flags and show that Waterford is a warm and inclusive place. I’m sure the vast majority of Waterford people will be disgusted by this despicable act.”
People often ask “Why does Pride take place?”— Mayor Damien Geoghegan (@damiengeoghegan) June 7, 2021
Someone lowered the Pride Flags overnight & burned them. The majority of Waterford people will be disgusted by this act.
I won’t be deterred and it’s my intention to replace those flags. Waterford is a warm/inclusive place pic.twitter.com/yZzeFiEwnj
Geoghegan told local radio station WLRFM on Monday: “Gardaí in Waterford are investigating it right now I believe they have CCTV images of it.
“Members of the Gardaí were actually present for the flags being flown last Friday and have lent their full support to the initiative of the Pride flag."
Geoghan was on hand on Friday to oversee the raising of the flags. He said on June 4: "Delighted to once again fly The Pride Flag at both The Civic Offices Dungarvan and on The Mall, Waterford to mark Gay Pride month.
"Important to show support and solidarity to LGBTQI Community, and to show that Waterford is a welcoming and inclusive place.
"This is the second year that I’ve made the decision as Mayor to fly The Pride Flag to mark Pride Month, and I sincerely hope that every Mayor that follows on will continue with this practice."
The reprehensible act occurred at the culmination of the second annual Pride of the Déise, a not-for-profit, volunteer-led community organization based in Waterford City that celebrates Waterford's inclusion and diversity and promotes the Irish city as a safe place for everyone.
This year's event, which was largely virtual, featured a mixture of speakers, workshops, and performances, as well as an online film festival, Queer Vision.
On Monday, organizers of Pride of the Déise said on social media: "After the incredibly positive response received over the Pride of the Déise - Waterford's Pride Festival weekend it's very disheartening to see this happen.
"We hope that the LGBTQAI+ Community of Waterford will stand together and will continue to be visible in the face of this hate.
"We will work with our partners in the community, our supporters in the council, and the Guards to build a safe Waterford where things like this don't happen.
"This is a clear reminder as to why we celebrate Pride, and shows how important Pride of the Déise community is for Waterford County.
"This shows the exact reason why we should have Pride in Waterford and a clear reminder why Pride Month is still necessary.
"So we will continue to raise our rainbow flags and not let this deter us from throwing many more Pride Parades in County Waterford. If anything they will only get bigger and better."
After the incredibly positive response received over the Pride of the Déise - Waterford's Pride Festival weekend it's...Posted by Pride of the Déise on Monday, June 7, 2021