Outrage as youths steal flags from Falkirk memorial and run around yelling 'freedom'

An investigation has been launched after flags were stolen from a Falkirk memorial site.

By Jonathon Reilly
Tuesday, 20th July 2021, 2:35 pm

The thefts took place at the fountain dedicated to Sir John de Graeme in the town’s Victoria Park last Thursday.

The Society of John De Graeme, a non-profit group set up to educate people on the role he played in the Scottish wars of independence, has alerted police to the “disgusting” crime in a bid to catch the culprits.

David Reid, who founded the society in 2016, said: “We have CCTV.

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Flags at the Sir John de Graeme memorial fountain in Victoria Park, Falkirk were stolen last Thursday. Picture: Michael Gillen.

“We haven’t been able to access it because the computer system is inside the community centre so we’ve had to wait.

“According to two eyewitnesses, it was a group of four males and one female who ripped two flags we have at the memorial site from the flagpoles and proceeded to run around and shout ‘freedom’.

“Hopefully we’ll have them on CCTV. It’s not so much the cost of the replacements, as we’ve already had two people voluntarily pay for the replacement flags; it’s the principle.

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“It’s a memorial site and it’s there because people fought and died believing in a cause – it’s also heritage and acting in that manner is a lack of respect for both those who came before and what it stands for.

“It’s the height of disrespect. It’s no more different from a First or Second World War memorial or graveyard. There’s not any excuse.”

Known as the ‘Right Hand of Wallace’, Sir John De Graeme gave his name to locations around Falkirk and fought alongside William Wallace in the Battle of Falkirk in 1298.

Plants at the Society of John De Graeme-run site have been damaged in the past, however, members regard the latest incident as a step too far.

David added: “A lot of money was invested in regenerating the site, which was completed at the beginning of last year, so we don’t want to have to repair it again.

“The plants are one thing, but ripping flags from flagpoles, that’s the line we’ve got to draw.”

A Police Scotland spokesman said: “Police were called around 4.25pm on Thursday, July 15 following the theft of flags from a memorial within Victoria Park, Falkirk.

“Inquiries are currently ongoing to trace those responsible.”

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