Published Monday, 28 July 2014
The man drowned at Bessbrook Pond in Co Armagh. (© UTV)
The man was taken from the scene in an ambulance to Daisy Hill Hospital at around 5pm on Monday but did not survive.
It is understood that the victim was a pensioner from the village.
SDLP MLA for Newry and Armagh Dominic Bradley has expressed his condolences to the man's family.
"As a native of Bessbrook, I know the family of the man who drowned this evening and my thoughts and prayers are with them at this very difficult and sad time," he said.
"It would appear that the man attempted to swim across Bessbrook Pond with the intention of removing two Tricolour flags that had been placed on an island there and replace them with a Union flag."
UUP Newry and Armagh MLA Danny Kennedy spent the evening with the family at the hospital and said they are "totally devastated" by the loss.
"He was highly respected and liked within the Bessbrook community. I counted him as a personal friend and I am deeply upset by his untimely and tragic death," he said.
"On behalf of the family I would like to like to thank the emergency services, the ambulance service and police and all those at the scene who rendered assistance.
"Attempts were made to save his life at Bessbrook Pond, but unfortunately it was all in vain."
He added: "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."
Sinn Féin MLA for the area Mickey Brady also offered his sympathy to the family of the deceased.
He said: "The terrible news at the loss of a life at Bessbrook Pond is tragic. A family is grieving tonight and a community is in shock."
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.
"My thoughts are with the family of the deceased as they attempt to come to terms with this awful incident."
Last week Sinn Féin Mayor of Newry and Mourne Council urged those responsible for putting up two Irish Tricolours at the lake to take them down.
The flags that were on the island had been removed on Monday night.
© UTV News