A unionist council allows LGBT symbol to be exempt from flag policy

I write to express my disappointment at the decision of Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council to fly the Rainbow Flag from dawn to dusk to celebrate 'gay pride' by 12 votes to 11.

Thursday, 26th July 2018, 3:28 am
Updated Thursday, 26th July 2018, 5:39 am
The Rainbow flag, which flew at Stormont House last year, above, will be flown from civic buildings in Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon. Photo by Stephen Hamilton /Press Eye

I gather that the UUP abstained on the motion while the DUP councillors present and an independent, Councillor David Jones, opposed the proposal.

As a ratepayer I am unimpressed that our council buildings will be used to promote the cause of the LGBT movement. The suggestion that a second flag pole might be erected at Banbridge to ensure the Union Flag flies as well as per council policy of flying it 365 days a year doesn’t impress me even if it is true - which some councillors question. Buying and erecting a flag pole to tick a box to show that the council is “progressive” is hardly a prudent use of ratepayers’ money.

The belief in other quarters that the National Flag will be replaced with this symbol of opposition to freedom of speech and religion is also deeply troubling.

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Everyone knows that the issue of flags flying from public buildings is a sensitive issue in Northern Ireland. Where was the Equality Impact Assessment? Why does the council believe that the LGBT movement is exempt from the standards which apply to other political movements? Why is their flag allowed to brand the buildings we as ratepayers pay for and therefore associate us with all the crazy demands they make?

As for those who proposed the motion - Sinn Fein - their professed concern for “rights” is laughable when sent in the context of the Republican movement‘s history.

Where was their concern for the most fundamental human right, the right to life, when the PIRA gunned down mother of six Agnes Wallace on the streets of Armagh?

Where was Sinn Fein/IRA’s concern for rights when the Provos planted a bomb in Banbridge which blew 11 year old school boy Alan McCrum out into eternity?

Where was their concern for the rights of the Herron family when three members of that family were incinerated in their Dromore home by the IRA?

Importantly when the issue came to be debated in the council why were these issues not raised? I understand that with the honourable exception of independent Councillor David Jones, who rightly raised the issue of issue of Republican hypocrisy when it comes to human rights, there was no one to speak against the Sinn Fein proposal.

Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon has 27 elected Unionist representatives. Does anyone think that if Unionists brought forward a proposal about flying the National Flag in Fermanagh and Omagh Council buildings there would only be one Republican to speak and that the motion would have any prospect of passing? Of course not.

Yet here we have a proposal which may see the National Flag replaced for the day or if not flown on parity with another flag at the behest of Sinn Fein/IRA in a council which is two thirds Unionist.

I would ask that all councillors opposed to this use the call in process to get this decision reversed given the rushed nature of the process and the policy implications which it raises.

Samuel Morrison, Dromore Co Down