SF-SDLP veto before MLAs even discuss flag proposals

Union flag flying at Belfast City Hall
Union flag flying at Belfast City Hall

Today the Assembly is expected to debate several amendments to the bill which deal with flying flags at the new councils’ headquarters.

Ulster Unionist amendments propose that the Union Flag should be flown on a minimum of designated days at every council but that it should fly every day at Belfast City Hall.

An Alliance amendment would see the Union Flag flying on designated days at every council across the Province and would ban other flags from being flown at council offices.

However, the UUP and Alliance amendments have effectively been vetoed by nationalists after the SDLP and Sinn Fein tabled a petition of concern.

Sinn Fein MLA Rosie McCorley said that her party had approached the SDLP who had agreed to sign a petition of concern about the flag amendments.

She claimed that unionists were attempting to “impose their will on the whole community” through the 
flag amendments.

During yesterday’s debate, SDLP MLA Colum Eastwood said: “The media are completely and utterly obsessed with that section of the debate.

“We need to be mindful that this legislation is much more important than that issue alone.”

Today will also see debate about a UUP proposal to introduce a “rates convergence period lasting a minimum of three years” for those who will suffer from joining a council area with higher rates.