UUP to discuss McCrea stance on flags

Mr McCrea spoke out of line with party policy.

The Ulster Unionists are to discuss the political future of Basil McCrea after he said he agrees with the Alliance stance on flags.

Friday, 07 December 2012
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Three councillors on Belfast City Council have threatened to resign from the UUP if the Lagan Valley MLA is not expelled over his comments.

Mr McCrea spoke against the party line set out by leader Mike Nesbitt when he said he believes the Union flag should fly from City Hall on designated days.

It comes after a motion was passed by 29 votes to 21 at a council meeting this week.

Nationalists had wanted the flag taken down altogether but Alliance, which holds the balance of power, put forward a compromise.

"In my opinion what we do here in Lisburn, which is to fly the flag on designated days plus two other days, seems to have some merit in it," Mr McCrea told UTV.

"We fly the flag close to the war memorial also so I think there are ways of sorting this out."

Asked if he sees his stance as being more in line with Alliance than UUP, he added: "I actually think this is Ulster Unionist Party policy.

"It's the UUP in Lisburn that introduced designated days in 2002, we all voted for it including the DUP and frankly there have been no issues.

"I have had a discussion with Mike and made it quite clear that we do need to find a way to make sure everyone's culture and background is respected and one of the ways to do that is to have a proper look at the flags issue and sort this out."

A number of UUP councillors on Belfast City Council are angry about the comments and said they are going to consider their positions.

The party will discuss the matter when its executive meets on Saturday.

"Mike Nesbitt made the Ulster Unionist party's position absolutely clear on Thursday," a statement from the Unionists explained.

"There is a fundamental issue regarding the chipping away of people's identity as British citizens. No doubt Basil McCrea's interview will be brought up when the party executive meet tomorrow."