Merchant Navy flag row ‘part of a political pantomime’

The Red Ensign flying at the Causeway Coast and Glens offices in Limavady on Thursday. INLV3715-245KDR
The Red Ensign flying at the Causeway Coast and Glens offices in Limavady on Thursday. INLV3715-245KDR

An apparent u-turn by Causeway Coast and Glens Council officials over plans to fly the Red Ensign on council buildings, including in Limavady on Thursday, to mark Merchant Navy day is “another example of how Council officials are caught in the middle of a political pantomime”, a local Sinn Fein councillor has said.

Causeway Independent councillor Padraig McShane had brought a legal challenge against the decision, describing the Red Ensign of the Merchant Navy as an “imperialist” flag.

“There will be no flags flown in Limavady or Ballycastle,” he said. “Historically the policy in Ballycastle was a no flags policy and that has been the case in Limavady as well for some time. When the council made the decision to put the Red Ensign up they were pre-empting the outcome of the equality impact assessment on the council’s own flags policy.”

A Causeway Council email sent to all councillors, dated September 2, read: “Following Council’s decision to fly the Merchant Navy ensign flag, a legal challenge was received. Legal Advice was sought regarding the challenge, and as a result the Council will not now fly the red ensign flag from any Council building in Ballycastle and Limavady on Thursday, September 3.”

However, a further email sent by Causeway Council to members stated: “Subsequent to my email of 10.33 this morning, (as below) I wish to advise that following further deliberation, the decision of the Council will stand, and the red Ensign flag will be flown as agreed by members.”

Sinn Fein’s Sean McGlinchey said Council “is caught in the middle”.

“Prayers, flags, emblems; all these matters are being used for political gains and people need to wise up. There are far more important issues we need to be dealing with. This is a joke, part of a political pantomime, and Council officials are caught in the middle of it all,” said Colr. McGlinchey. “When you look at the current economic sitation, and the number of people out of work, this is ridiculous.”

The ‘Journal’ has contacted Causeway Council and is awaiting comment on the matter.