Nazi flags were discovered near a loyalist bonfire site on a housing estate in Carrickfergus, Co. Antrim earlier this week.

The swastika-emblazoned flags were found flying from lamp posts there, in addition to paramilitary flags, the Union Jack, and the Confederate flag.

The Nazi flags were quickly taken down by residents; the other flags – including the Confederate flag – remain.

According to Progressive Unionist Party spokesman Gareth Cole, the flags were flying for less than an hour before they were removed.

“The people of Glenfield estate did not want this flag in their community,” he told the BBC, and thanked the residents for “their swift actions in having them taken down and taking a stand against this sinister and disturbing action.”

“I have been told since that the flags will be burned on the 11th night,” he added. Bonfires are a tradition in loyalist communities on the night before July 12, also known as Orangemen’s Day, the day of celebration and parades for the Orange Order and Ulster Protestants.

He said that the identities of the people who raised the flags were still unknown. "I'm not sure who was involved, there's clearly sinister elements there that have put them up," he said.

Northern Ireland’s First Minister, Peter Robinson, and Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness, both condemned the flags.

“Nazi flags have nothing to do with unionism,” Robinson said on Twitter.

Nazi flags have nothing to do with unionism. I commend the residents who removed them. Shameful that such flags were ever erected.

— Peter Robinson (@DUPleader) July 8, 2015

McGuinness commented that “The overwhelming majority of the Unionist people will be as disgusted as the rest of us at these displays of hatred.”

The overwhelming majority of the Unionist people will be as disgusted as the rest of us at these displays of hatred.

— Martin McGuinness (@M_McGuinness_SF) July 7, 2015

Party MLA Steward Dickson described the Nazi flags as an insult to all Unionists who fought in WWII.

"Part of the celebration for the Twelfth of July incorporates the memory of thousands of Orangemen who gave their lives during the Second World War," he said.

"For anyone to put swastika flags around a bonfire as part of their so-called celebration has taken a most sinister turn, and is flying in the face of everything that I ever understood the Orange Order to stand for."

A statement from the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) said that they were "aware of reports of several flags in the Carrickfergus area and are making surrounding"

There have also been calls for the Confederate flag to come down. 

On the heels of the controversy in the US surounding the flying of the Confederate flag above the State Building in South Carolina, groups around the world that use the Confederate flag for other purposes have come under renewed scrutiny. 

One such group is the Red Hand Defenders in Northern Ireland. Another is fans of the Cork hurling team, who use an array of flags from around the world with the team colors of red and white to show their support. 

One group, Sport Against Racism Ireland (SARI), has called for the Confederate flag to be banned at Cork matches.

“We’re calling on the Cork County Board to issue a statement asking the fans to desist because it’s a flag of hatred. It sends out the wrong signals. We would call on stewards to be vigilant to make sure it doesn’t appear in grounds," SARI’s international and education officer Ken McCue told the Irish Examiner.