Irish Republican News · March 29, 2004
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Unionists refuse to lower flag at City Hall

Sinn Féin has threatened court action after unionists dismissed a legal warning about the permanent flying of the Union Jack flag at Belfast City Hall.

A meeting of the council's policy and resources committee rejected proposals to reduce the number of days on which the flag is flown.

A Sinn Féin motion, calling for the Irish Tricolour to be flown alongside the British flag, or alternatively for there to be no flag at all, was defeated.

An Alliance Party motion, calling for the Union Jack to be flown on 15 designated days only, was also defeated.

Instead, unionist councillors endorsed the current practice of flying the Union flag at city hall on a permanent basis and for it to be flown at the Ulster Hall and other office buildings on 19 days.

However, the flag policy breaches fair employment laws.

City Hall legal counsel Nicholas Hanna QC has warned against flying the flag at City Hall at any time other than on the 15 'statutory' days.

Sinn Féin's Eoin O'Broin last night described yesterday's flags decision as ``disgraceful''.

``We hope that when the flags issue comes to full council that it will be resolved in a mature and sensible fashion,'' he said.

``However, the reality is that unionists have stalled on this decision for two years and are deliberately ignoring the very clear warning from the council's own legal advisers.

``We want this issue to be sor- ted out amicably but if unionists continue to ignore legal adv- ice we will consider court action.''

However, the DUP's Sammy Wilson welcomed the decision to continue flying the Union flag on a permanent basis.

``I think it is a reasonable outcome and another poke in the eye for Sinn Féin,'' he said.

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© 2004 Irish Republican News