Emblems must promote mutual respect
Aiden Carlin, Sinn Féin Down District Councillor, has written to the council's Clerk and Chief Executive, John McGrillen, seeking an urgent meeting to discuss the flying of the Union Jack flag at the council offices over the Christmas period.
Carlin said: ``The over-riding duty of Down District Council is to the whole community, not just the unionist-British minority in Downpatrick and surrounding areas. The association of the council offices with one tradition makes the resolution of complex issues such as exclusion and inequality more difficult. Certainly, the clear message to any nationalist or republican passing the council offices adorned with an emblem of unionism is that they are second class citizens.
``This blatant display of Britishness is in stark contrast with the suppression of Irishness on Saint Patrick's Day, when participants in the carnival parade were prevented from carrying Ireland's national flag, the Tricolour.
``I have written to the Clerk and Chief Executive seeking an urgent meeting to discuss our party's grave concerns. At that meeting, I will remind John McGrillen that all the participants in the multi-party negotiations that led to the Good Friday Agreement acknowledged the sensitivity of the use of symbols and emblems for public purposes. In particular, they recognised the need to ensure symbols and emblems are used in a manner which promotes mutual respect rather than division. Obviously, the decoration of the council offices with an emblem of unionism does nothing to heal divisions or strengthen local partnerships''.