Fermanagh District Council is becoming “a cold house for unionists” after it admitted airbrushing the flag of St George from a public leaflet, a former Ulster Unionist leader has said.
Last month the council published an information leaflet about the impact of the G8 summit on local people and the disruptions which they can expect.
However, local UUP MLA Tom Elliott wrote to the council’s chief executive after discovering that a photograph of Enniskillen’s famous castle omitted its flag, a famous emblem which has been associated with the castle since the late 17th century.
The flag has flown on the building since attacks on Enniskillen by James II’s army in 1688 and 1689. At that time two volunteer regiments were formed at Enniskillen Castle to support King William of Orange and defend the town from King James.
Those regiments became the Royal Inniskilling Dragoons and the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers who went on to fight at the Battle of the Boyne and according to tradition were conferred by King William with the right to use the symbol of a castle flying a St George flag on their regimental badges and colours.
Mr Elliott said that the council had been wrong to alter the “iconic” image, particularly as the flag flies from the castle on a permanent basis, so the photograph must have been altered.
The former UUP leader added: “The re-writing of history is one thing, but here we appear to see part of our history being air-brushed from existence. Both are unacceptable...there are many in the wider unionist community – myself included – who will view this as further evidence that Fermanagh District Council is fast becoming a cold house for unionists.”
In a statement, Fermanagh council said: “The design team gave long and detailed consideration to the content and design of the leaflet. In relation to any decision around the inclusion of flags, the design team was mindful of the fact that the flags of the eight countries participating in the G8 summit plus the flags of the European Commission, the European Council and the Republic of Ireland would all need to be portrayed.
“Consequently, it was decided that no flags would be included within the leaflet and the document is consistent in that regard.
“The draft document was discussed at the Development Committee meeting on Monday May 13 2013. Some amendments were suggested at that meeting but there were no concerns raised in connection with the absence of flags.”