Man drowns attempting Tricolour removal

Published Tuesday, 29 July 2014
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A man who drowned while attempting to remove two Irish Tricolours from a pond in Co Armagh to replace them with a Union flag has been named as Oswald 'Ossie' Bradley.

The pensioner and father of two was attempting to swim to an island in the middle of the Bessbrook Pond on Monday afternoon.

The grandfather received first aid at the scene before being taken to Daisy Hill Hospital where he later died.

He was 68.

Police are not treating the death as suspicious.

Pastor Barrie Halliday was a friend of Mr Bradley and had known him from a young age.

He said: "I couldn't believe it when I heard it.

"I was out in the village on Monday and waved to him and was going to stop but I didn't.

"In a sense I wasn't surprised, because I knew Ossie was scundered by the Tricolour going up.

"He was a very active member of the FAIR victims' group and he was deeply affected by the Kingsmills massacre and just took this as a real insult to the suffering of the Protestants that a Tricolour would be raised.

"He felt the families of Kingsmills had been forgotten and suffering of the Protestants had been forgotten."

"Ossie and his wife were so kind and supportive to the elderly and those that suffered, he was just a gentleman, that's how I'll remember him.

"It is tragic it ended this way."

SDLP MLA for Newry and Armagh Dominic Bradley knew the man, who had worked as a painter and decorator in the area and owned a popular chip shop.

He said: "My thoughts and prayers are with the family at this very difficult and sad time."

UUP MLA Danny Kennedy spent the evening with the family at the hospital and said they were "totally devastated" by the loss.

He added: "He was a highly respected and liked man within the Bessbrook community. I counted him as a personal friend and I am deeply upset by his untimely and tragic death."

"This is a very tragic outcome to controversies surrounding flags in this village. This is too high a price for any family and community to pay."

DUP Newry and Armagh MLA William Irwin said he was "saddened" to hear the news.

"The flags were placed there with the obvious purpose to raise tensions and it is so tragic and unfortunate that this has sadly led to a man's death," he said.

Last week Sinn Féin Mayor of Newry and Mourne Council, Dáire Hughes, urged those responsible for putting up the Irish flags to take them down.

The flags were removed on Monday following the tragic drowning.

© UTV News
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37 Comments
Confused in Northern Ireland wrote (63 days ago):
While this is a very sad incident and awful for his family and friends what about all the union jack flags and banners as flying as you make your way through many towns and villages in Northern Ireland. Surely this has to be considered aswell.
Pasty in Belfast wrote (64 days ago):
That's just the problem Linda, the PSNI Don't remove ALL flags they allow thugs to put them up all over the place and on Public Property and if anyone removes them it is theft. I would love to get the contract to go round removing or Neutralizing the flags - i.e. I would either remove them or bleach them white and let them fly then there wouldn't be an issue, although all the thugs could be annoyed when they wake up to go get their brew money.
the bull in Belfast wrote (64 days ago):
@ linda in ni, u said the psni act quick to remove any other flags ! u must be short sighted as parts of Belfast are plagued with red, white and blue and loyalist paramilitary flags 24/7 all year round in which I have to be intimidated by every day of life. also paramilitary flags are spose to be illegal, pity no one inforces this.
Anto in In the Bane wrote (64 days ago):
I think everyone is in agreement that this loss of life was for nothing. The result is a family suffering greatly. Everything about this story is wrong from flags being displayed to a man of sixty eight trying to replace them with a flag he thought should be on display instead. Total madness. Both sides can't agree on this and other issues. Peter Robinson is a disaster when it comes to leadership. Someone needs to tell him it's 2014 and the clock is ticking. Hopefully soon the British/Irish governments will take over this and make strong rules to sort out this stupid game being played by people old enough to know better. The London government are not doing enough.
Steven in Belfast wrote (64 days ago):
@Linda in NI. Maybe the PSNI divers didn't remove the flags because they were in a tree. Scuba gear is mighty heavy, it would have hampered any effort to climb a tree I would imagine.
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