An SDLP member who is standing in the forthcoming elections has described himself as “an economic unionist” who accepts the Union Flag as “the flag of the country”.
Justin Cartwright is a young Australian trade unionist who is running for Balmoral in the Belfast council elections.
Asked recently if he is campaigning for Irish unity, he replied: “No I’m not. I’m an economic unionist. Increasing numbers of nationalist voters are moving away from this idea of a united Ireland.
“There’s a reason for that, because people aren’t economically illiterate. They look at the economy of the Republic of Ireland and they see a foundering ship. So for us to tether our wee boat to that, both vessels would go down.
“And that’s not in anybody’s interest, it’s certainly not in the interest of working people.”
He told blogger Barton Creeth that an Equality Impact assessment supported the move to fly the Union Flag at Belfast City Hall on designated days only.
“The assessment recommended designated days as a policy, and it’s one that I agree with, because the Union Flag is the flag of the country so it deserves that capacity, the right to fly on public buildings.
“But that needs to be tempered with the realistic situation with the communities, which is why I don’t agree with it being flown every day, and if you want parity with Britain, the majority of their councils fly the flag on designated days.”
Mr Cartwright was on the SDLP executive when Newry councillors voted to name a play park after an IRA man.
They called on the SDLP councillors to reverse their decision, which they have not done.
“I think it was wrong,” he said.