24 January 2006

DUP in bid to overturn council flag ban

Belfast Telegraph

By Claire Regan
24 January 2006

A long-running row over the flying of the Union Flag at the headquarters of Lisburn City Council is set to escalate this evening with a DUP attempt to overturn a controversial ban on flying it all year round.

The party, which holds the highest number of seats on the council, will this evening try to pass a motion to resume flying the Union Flag at Lagan Valley Island on a daily basis.

If passed at this evening's monthly meeting, the motion will overturn a controversial decision taken by councillors four years ago to fly the flag on designated days only.

The city's DUP mayor Jonathan Craig said an Equality Impact Assessment had been carried out by the council and he believed there was little opposition to reinstating the flag on an all-year basis.

Mr Craig said legal advice given to the council, on which the previous decision to limit the flying of the flag was based, said the matter was "only a political decision".

"There's no law that says we should or shouldn't fly the flag all year round. Legal advice was a feeble excuse to take the flag down," he said.

"When the Equality Impact Assessment was carried out recently, only eight of 200 people employed in the Lagan Valley Island building objected to the flag being flown all year round. Clearly that is not a vast majority."

Sinn Fein councillor Paul Butler said he believed there would be an adverse effect on Catholic employees at the council.

"This motion sends out a clear message that Catholics are not welcome," he said.

"The DUP are saying that this is a council for unionists, run by unionists."

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