Republican News · Thursday 8 June 1999

[An Phoblacht]

Union Jack motion defeated

Speaking on Monday, 5 June, Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams welcomed the first Assembly sitting since the suspension of the political institutions by Peter Mandelson in February.

Adams said: ``We are pleased to finally be getting back into dealing with the issues that directly affect the lives of people throughout the north. We have lost three important months. Sinn Féin will play a central role in the creation of a just society where mutual respect, equality and peace are fundamental rights.''

The first day was taken up with ministerial statements and the first stage of a number of Bills. The most significant of these was the Appropriation Bill, setting out the mechanism distributing funding allocations to the various departments in accordance with budgetary plans and financial estimates. Assembly members approved the first stage of the Bill, releasing funding for departments before the end of the summer recess.

Total public expenditure in the Six Counties this year will amount to 7.8 billion, 4.3 billion of this now requires Assembly approval.

The DUP's Sammy Wilson, recently elected Lord Mayor of Belfast, accused Sinn Féin Education Minister Martin McGuinness of ``boasting'' to schoolchildren about his time on the run and demanded assurances that this would not be repeated. Replying, McGuinness said he had never boasted about this to schoolchildren, that he had discusssed it with one reporter and he pointed out that he was on the run from British forces who sought to intern him without trial and that the RUC had no charge against him.

On Tuesday, a DUP motion seeking to impose the flying of the British Union Jack flag over the Assembly at Stormont and over all Executive buildings on designated days was defeated following a debate. To succeed, the motion would have required majority support among both nationalist and unionist representatives.

SDLP Minister Sean Farren said that he would support the status quo until a common emblem was agreed and that he would fly the Union Jack from his department on designated days.

Mary Nelis, Sinn Féin Assembly Member for Foyle, said the DUP motion was designed to stop the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement and parity of esteem for all.

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