Craigavon to review Union flag policy

Published Tuesday, 08 January 2013
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The Union flag could be flown every day at Craigavon Borough Council offices, after councillors voted to review their policy to only display the flag on designated days.

Craigavon to review Union flag policy
Violence in Belfast after a council decision to restrict days the flag flies. (© Pacemaker)

It is a decade since the council decided to fly the flag only on designated days on civic buildings in Portadown and Lurgan.

But on Monday evening, members met to discuss the flag policy and a motion was passed which will see the ten year old decision reviewed.

The motion was put forward by the DUP, and the party's MLA Stephen Moutray said previously "we did not have an understanding that Unionist family would come forward to support the motion".

Mr Moutray defended claims that all councillors had accepted the policy without complaint.

"Our party voted to oppose what was done ten years ago," he explained. "We have brought this back to the democratic forum, and that is the place to discuss it."

He said the decision to review Craigavon's flag policy was "in no way related" to the recent disorder in Belfast and added, "There have been several protests in the Craigavon and I would ask those who protest to do so in a peaceful manner."

The Alliance Party's Conrad Dixon said should the policy change, it would be "rewarding those who have engaged in violence and intimidation".

This will not only destroy good will among local communities, but has rewarded those determined to drag our society back into sectarian trenches.

Cllr Conrad Dixon

"I would question the political motives behind the decision of my DUP colleagues in bringing this motion to the Council," added Cllr Dixon.

Sinn Féin councillor Johnny McGibbon said the upcoming review must be an honest one.

"For the past 10 years, since 2002, Craigavon Council has operated a designated days policy agreed by all parties, and a genuine review could conceivably propose the removal of all flags from public buildings," he explained.

"The DUP are raising this issue in response to death threats against and attacks on elected representatives, attacks, including a murder attempt, on the police, and illegal protests and the blocking of roads. In reality they are providing weak leadership," he added.

The motion follows a decision taken in December by Belfast City Council to limit the number of days when the Union flag is flown from council-owned buildings from 365 days to 18.

Despite opposition from unionist councillors, the SDLP and Alliance Party voted for the reduction.

Violence sparked across Northern Ireland, including five consecutive nights of disorder in east Belfast this month.

A number of police officers have been injured during the disorder, and elected representatives, including Alliance MP and, most recently, SDLP MLA Patsy McGlone have been the subject of threats and attacks.

© UTV News
Comments Comments
Tom in Co Antrim wrote (747 days ago):
Ryan - BCC have "all of a sudden" changed their flag policy after over 100 years! I don't have a problem with the designated days policy, the problem was the way it was implemented. A large number of people in Belfast signed a petition against any change to the flag policy, yet this was ignored by the idiotic politicians which has led to violence, (which I don't support) at the worst time of the year, therefore it's not really true democracy is it? BCC should have delayed their decision and enganged with the unionist parties to work out an agreement first. The subsequent gloating and provocation from many republicans has also inflamed the situation, so they must bear some of the responsibility for the trouble. Ask yourself how the other councils in NI were able to implement designated days policies without protests and violence? As for the census, you can read pretty much anything you want into those figures, and I think your simplistic view of it is wrong. For example, I would have picked Northern Irish as my nationality, however although I am a unionist, I'm not a protestant, therefore religion is not a primary indicator of nationality, as they are not necessarily linked.
Ryan in Belfast wrote (747 days ago):
@Tom, County Antrim: Tom, craigavon council for the last decade, even with its unionist majority, was happy with designated days when it came to flying the Union flag but ALL A SUDDEN, they want to change that. It seems too much like "tit for tat" to me. Belfast city council on the other hand tom has lost its unionist majority and will soon have a nationalist majority and they voted to remove the union flag. Thats democracy shown by both councils tom, i accept that but you and the people out destroying our economy obviously do not. Tom, dont take my word for it, have you seen the latest census? The 6 counties is 45% catholic, 48% protestant. By the next census its predicted catholics will be over 50% of the population and protestants will shrink yet again. Thats just the facts tom. And before you come out with nonsense about "not all catholics support a United Ireland", i could say exacty the same about protestants, not all protestants support the british Union. But lets just face reality, Catholics will vote for a United Ireland. Im a catholic, i know pretty much how my community would vote. They vote SF/SDLP every single elecion, theres proof.
Danny in Ulster wrote (748 days ago):
Give over you whingers, its ONLY a flag, haven't you more important things to worry about etc? LOL
Tom in Co Antrim wrote (748 days ago):
Broken Record Ryan in Belfast - You are so brainwashed with your republican propaganda you can only see things through your green tinted specs eh? The nationalist element of Belfast city council vote to remove the union flag but ok beacuse its democratic and not sectarian. Craigavon council vote to reinstate the flag but now all of a sudden because they have a unionist majority its sectarian and unfair! boo hoo Its funny you can't see how stupid you sound. Anyway, keep telling yourself there will be a catholic majority soon in NI who will all vote for a united ireland, blah blah blah....
Mark in NI wrote (748 days ago):
All the "outraged" nationalists on here make me laugh. There was no problem in Belfast until SF/SDLP voted to remove the union flag. Now they don't like it when Craigavon council vote to restore it there. Is democracy for nationalists only? Get over yourselves and ask your politicians why they have been provoking the PUL communities in N. Ireland over flags etc.
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