Support for City Hall flag removal

Published Friday, 23 November 2012
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The Union flag should no longer fly over Belfast City Hall, a council committee has recommended on Friday.

Support for City Hall flag removal
Belfast City Hall. (© UTV)

The motion was passed at a meeting of the policy and resources committee, supported by Sinn Féin and the SDLP - but it would have to be ratified by the full council for action to be taken.

The flag currently flies every day over City Hall, but the issue of flags and emblems in shared spaces has long been at the centre of debates.

"Sinn Féin wants to see a City Hall that is inclusive and welcoming to every citizen and every tradition," the party's Jim McVeigh said, welcoming the committee's decision.

"The Union Jack is associated with one tradition in this city and is often used to exclude and intimidate others."

The SDLP's Tim Attwood explained his party's reason for backing the motion.

"The proposal put before the committee was designed to promote a shared space and present City Hall as a civic centre for all the people of Belfast and, as such, we voted to support it," he said.

"With the decision now having been taken, we look forward to full Council in December - where we hope other parties will continue to join with us in supporting a City Hall that is truly shared by all people of Belfast."

At the December Council meeting, we will again propose that the Union flag be flown on the designated days - as recommended by the Equality Commission.

Maire Hendron, Alliance

Unionist politicians did not back the proposal and were joined in their stance by the Alliance Party.

Questions have previously been raised over whether the Union flag should only fly on set days, whether a Tricolour should also fly alongside it, or whether any flag should fly at all.

Alliance's Maire Hendron said her party would never support attempts to remove the Union flag permanently from City Hall.

"At the meeting today I proposed that the flag should fly on designated days," she added.

"This has been a long standing Alliance policy and is in line with the recommendations of the Equality Commission in 2002 and 2011."

Ms Hendron further addressed claims that the Alliance Party group on Belfast City Council had made a pact with Sinn Féin and the SDLP on the future of the flag.

"Nothing could be further from the truth. The Alliance Party believes that the Union flag should be flown with respect and dignity," she said.

"In the context of building a shared future in our divided society, we believe it is important that the recommendations of the Equality Commission should be followed in the matter of flying flags."

The decision will be put to the full council on 3 December.

© UTV News
Comments Comments
200 Comments
Danny in Ulster wrote (686 days ago):
@Ivan in Bristol - either you are tking the mick or your ignorance is matched only by your arrogance. You can't force your idea of a person's national identity upon them, it is for them to decide, and only them you clown.
James in Ballymena wrote (689 days ago):
If sinn fein dont want the union jack been flown on city hall why dont we just fly the Ulster Flag, As far as im aware this is northern Ireland ever other country fly their own flag.
Con Andy in Belfast wrote (690 days ago):
@kristy foster You seem to be a little of the pace. The 'Union Jack' is not the flag of England. It's the flag of the 'United Kingdom', the flag of England is white with a red cross on it. The 'Union Jack' should be taken down and replaced with an Ulster Flag, yellow with a red cross and then a British Ulster flag, white with a red cross and crown. I would see as much more appealing ti citizens of Northern Ireland, and they also look much better than the Union Jack which is a bonus. Another thing on the Vote to remain in the UK?...Catholics boycotted that in 1973, a BBC inquiry shows that 1% of the people that voted were catholic, making the poll useless. ALso there is a Northern Irish bank note. Ulster bank and Northern Bank (Danske bank) make them...you wouldn't find them being printed in England.
Danny in Ulster wrote (691 days ago):
@Clíodhna Kennedy - I hope your Gaelic is better than your English...
Sam in Belfast wrote (692 days ago):
Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom and that is why they flag should remain for people asking why. This is no Ireland. Why can some people not understand that?
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