For the second time in less than a week, Pride flags flown in front of the city council building in Waterford, Ireland, were torn down and, in one incident, burned in an act of arson. Mayor Damien Geoghegan made the announcement in a post to Twitter where he condemned the act and promised the flags would fly again. According to a report in the Irish Examiner, authorities arrested an unnamed man in his 40s and charged him with criminal damage for the initial incident that took place Monday, June 7.
"A truly despicable act," the mayor tweeted Saturday, saying the case was "again in the hands" of the country's national police force, known in Ireland as the Gardai.
The first incident took place early Monday morning just after the final events of Pride weekend in Waterford County. The flags were torn down and set ablaze, allegedly by the unnamed man arrested Thursday.
Geoghegan and the community remained defiant in the face of the destructive act, and immediately took to raising the flags yet again.
"Back where they belong!" Geoghegan wrote.
In another post, Geoghegan noted the arson and destruction of the first flags highlighted the importance of flying Pride flags, adding that most of the town's citizens would be "disgusted by this act" and that as mayor he would not be "deterred" from flying the flag.
"Waterford is a warm/inclusive place," he tweeted.
Not everyone in town was so warm and affirming, though. Over the weekend Geoghegan had a more somber post, noting it was his "sad duty to report that the Pride Flags were cut down overnight and removed from the flagpoles on The Mall" yet again.
Geoghegan and the Gardai released little further information on the investigations and did not indicate if they believe there is a connection between the cases. In the comments section of his post, the mayor did assure concerned constituents there are CCTV cameras in the area, and revealed the first suspect was identified and arrested using CCTV footage.
Meanwhile, Waterford residents made clear they shared the mayor's feelings about the incidents.
"Absolutely disgusting," noted one poster.
Another questioned what would drive a person to be so "bitter" to commit such a hateful act.
The unnamed man arrested for the first incident is scheduled to appear in court again on July 6. The Gardai has released no further information on their investigation into the second incident.
RELATED | Oklahoma Dad Helps Son Fly Pride Flag Outside Home in Viral Video