A protest by Sinn Féin’s youth wing blocked the entrance to the Equality Commission’s Office in Belfast in protest at a recent ruling discriminating against the wearing of the Easter Lily by nationalists.
The entrance was blocked for an hour, from 10am to 11am, in what the Ogra Shinn Féin group described as an “act of civil disobedience at this disrespectful decision and double standards”.
The Easter Lily is the symbol of Ireland’s war dead, traditionally worn at Eastertime, and broadly equivalent to the commemorative poppy worn in Britain and by unionists in the north of Ireland.
Ogra Shinn Féin have launched a petition in support of their aims to gain equal status for the Easter Lily, so that it can be worn freely and openly in all public spaces in the North.
Speaking from the protest, National Organiser of Ogra Shinn Féin, Barry McColgan said,
“The Easter Lily should be afforded equal status, and it is a crazy, archaic decision to forbid the wearing of it in the workplace or anywhere else. This blatant act of censorship, has deeply annoyed republicans, who are hurt and angry that the Equality Commission would disrespect the Easter Lily and with that Ireland’s Patriot Dead.”
“Our protest today was act of civil disobedience at this disrespectful decision and double standards. It was aimed at highlighting the absurdity of the Equality Commission’s decision in this day and age when we have Republicans in Ministerial positions in the Assembly, and we are calling for equal respect for Ireland’s patriot dead, and that the proper status is granted the Easter Lily so that it can be worn openly and freely.”
“The days of second class citizenship are over. This campaign will continue until this ridiculous decision is overturned and republican rights respected.”
‘NOT ENOUGH PROTESTANTS’
Meanwhile, the Equality Commission has been criticised by DUP leader Peter Robinson for not employing enough Protestants and being insuficiently unionist.
The commission employs 35% Protestants in its workforce, according to figures produced by the DUP. No figure was given for the percentage of Catholics employed
“It is not a representative body and I think that one flows from the other,” said Robinson.
“If you don’t have a representative body, then you find that staff get out of kilter, there is a cold house feeling and that has an impact that rolls on,” he said.