Call for council workers to be allowed to wear Easter Lily

Easter Lily.
Easter Lily.
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A proposal to allow local council workers to wear the Easter Lily has been diverted to a working group.

The decision was taken at the full monthly meeting of Derry City & Strabane District Council at the Guildhall on Monday evening.

Sackville Street in Dublin pictured after the 1916 Easter Rising.

Sackville Street in Dublin pictured after the 1916 Easter Rising.

Independent Councillor Paul Gallagher had tabled a motion stating: “In this the year of the 100th Anniversary of the 1916 Rising in Ireland, I call on Council to grant permission to any staff member who may wish to mark the occasion by wearing an Easter Lily in the workplace over the Easter period.”

Speaking to his motion, Colr. Gallagher said: “The Easter Lily is a powerful symbol in Ireland, worn as an act of remembrance of all the men and women who have given their lives.”

Sinn Fein Councillor Paul Fleming said that last week “we marched and wore our lilies with pride” during a raft of centenary celebrations.

He added that he felt it would have been better if the motion had been brought forward some time ago, adding that there might be implications for staff, and therefore that the issue may necessitate consultation with union representatives.

Queen Victoria statue inside the Guildhall.

Queen Victoria statue inside the Guildhall.

“We would suggest the matter is referred to a Working Group and we will make our case to that working group”, he added.

SDLP Councillor Martin Reilly said the council had a duty of care to all staff, including those who might not wish to wear the Easter Lily, adding that they had to be mindful of Equality Commission guidelines.

“We share the opinion that this motion should be put through the Council’s already established Working Group,” he said.

DUP Councillor Drew Thompson welcomed the suggestions by the previous two speakers and said it would be wrong of the council to try and impose anything without adequate discussion.

Responding to the comments, Colr. Gallagher said the Council had allocated £50,000 to commemorating the Rising and the Somme.

“We also have various artefacts here- we have Queen Victoria downstairs and we are talking of poppy celebrations and the like so this is just a motion about equality. Nobody asked me did I want to come in and go past that statue but I accept it’s there.

“This is for any member of staff who wishes to wear it, it is not an enforcement.”

Mayor, Sinn Fein Councillor Elisha McCallion, chairing the meeting, said that if the matter is referred to the Centenary Working Group then the Council can ensure the group is convened and considers the matter at the earliest opportunity.

Colr. Fleming’s proposal to refer the matter on to the Working Group was backed in a vote by 28 Councillors, with three voting against such a move and four abstaining.