A controversial motion, to urge police and agencies to remove ‘divisive’ banners from town centres, was passed tonight.
Sinn Fein brought a Notice of Motion to Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council calling for the agencies and PSNI to remove banners such as ‘Soldier F’ banners.
After an animated and, on occasion angry debate, the council vote was split 50/50 with an even 19 for and 19 against the motion.
However it passed with the casting vote of the Lord Mayor Mealla Campbell.
The Notice of Motion stated: “In recognition of this council’s efforts to encourage the regeneration of our town centres and our villages and mindful of the need for both to be places where everyone can feel welcome and where investment and tourism are promoted we call on those responsible for erecting divisive banners to remove them as a matter of urgency. This council will write to relevant agencies and the Police Service to urge them to remove such banners if those reponsible do not.”
Sinn Fein Cllr Liam Mackle said the erection of Soldier F banners was an insult to the victims of Bloody Sunday.
He welcomed the vote in Armagh Banbridge and Craigavon Council calling for the removal of offensive banners in town centres, including banners in support of murder suspect soilder F.
Cllr Mackle said: “These banners are divisive and cause community division.
“I call on those who erected them to remove them immediately.
“Should they fail to do so statutory agencies must act on the mandate given to them by the democratic decision of this Council.“
However the vote had stirred strong feelings among many in the DUP and the Ulster Unionist Party.
Independent Cllr Paul Berry branded the motion ‘repugnant and disgusting’.
He said: “It stinks of double standards.”
And he warned that if anyone touched a banner, more would be erected.
DUP Cllr Darryn Causby reminded councillors of IRA bombs which had destroyed towns such as Portadown.
SDLP Cllr Thomas O’Hanlon said the banners were divisive.
Ulster Unionist Cllr Julie Flaherty revealed her grandfather ‘took a bullet’ in the middle of Lurgan.
Sinn Fein Cllr Keith Haughian said he was sorry for any family who had taken a bullet and revealed how he had been burnt out of his home during Drumcree.