19/04/2013

Cenotaph Union Flag Plans Rejected

A proposal to fly the union flag above the cenotaph at Belfast City Hall has been rejected by councillors.

The announcement follows a decision by the Royal British Legion not to support the move.

The DUP proposal was put forward following the decision by Belfast councillors on 3 December last year to restrict the flying of the union flag above City Hall.

The DUP also proposed that the number of days the union flag is flown above Stormont be increased in the wake of the decision at City Hall, but a meeting to discuss the issue was boycotted by the SDLP, Sinn Féin and Alliance.

The British Legion has opposed the proposal to fly the flag at the cenotaph, saying the area is 'sacrosanct' and should not be politicised.

SDLP Councillor Tim Attwood said: "The SDLP is opposed to the flying of the union flag at the cenotaph because we believe that the cenotaph should be protected as shared space and a focus for reconciliation. We welcome the comments from a number of organisations who participate in remembrance services who have said that the cenotaph should not be politicised."

Mr Attwood added: "The SDLP attends the annual Somme and Remembrance Sunday Commemorations to pay our respects the thousands of men and women on the island of Ireland and beyond, who fought and died together in the different world. In recent years the SDLP has worked with others to try and enhance the Somme and Remembrance Sunday Commemorations.

"The SDLP proposed that the Somme Commemoration should fully reflect the contribution of the courageous men from the 36th (Ulster) Division and 16th (Irish) Division who lost their lives in France in 1916. Furthermore, the SDLP proposed a motion at the January 2012 Council meeting to invite the Irish Government to attend remembrance services.

"It was a both historic and symbolic occasion when Mr Eamon Gilmore TD, Minister for Foreign Affairs, attended the Somme and Remembrance Sunday last November. It is an important part of our history on the island that must not be forgotten."

(IT)

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