Union flag motion was “madness”

Tuesday night's flag protest outside Limavady Council offices on Tuesday.
Tuesday night's flag protest outside Limavady Council offices on Tuesday.

Unionist leaders in Limavady have failed in their bid to have the Union flag flown from Council buildings on designated days - a move blasted as “madness” by one nationalist councillor.

UUP Colr. Edwin Stevenson - who brought the motion at Limavady Council on Tuesday - told members the decision some years ago to no longer fly the Union flag at Limavady Council offices was “bad” then, and still was today, and said he wanted to see the Union flag back flying outside the Council building.

DUP councillor and MLA George Robinson made an amendment to the motion that Council review its current policy with a view to flying the flag all year round, not just on designated days.

However, SDLP Colr. Michael Coyle said his party wouldn’t be supporting the motion, or the amendment, and blasted the timing of the motion’s submission as “insensitive”.

Referring to the recent violence in Belfast, threats to leaders and attacks on property, Colr. Coyle said: “Nobody can convince me that these actions are actions of sane, reasonable and law abiding people.”

Colr. Coyle said the UUP motion was “like trying to put out a fire by throwing a gallon of petrol on it”. The SDLP councillor said traders were having a tough enough time, and claimed there was a danger of returning to “sad and frightening times” unless people stepped back and engaged with each other.

Sinn Fein Colr. Anne Brolly reminded members the building which housed Limavady Council offices was a government building which belonged to “the people” and “they must feel comfortable”, she said.

TUV Colr. Boyd Douglas also brought an amendment to the motion that the Union flag be flown outside Limavady Council offices on designated days.

“Would that be too much to ask?” he said.

In a heated speech, Sinn Fein Colr. Sean McGlinchey said the days of “no Catholics need apply” were over in Limavady and said, since then, “we’ve come a long road”. Acknowledging his IRA past, Colr. McGlinchey said he too had come a long way and had engaged with the community, including an offer to sit down locally with unionists to discuss the flags issue in the town.

Colr. McGlinchey questioned why Colr. Stevenson brought a motion “he knew wouldn’t be supported”.

“It was madness,” said Colr. McGlinchey, adding unionists had “done nothing” for working class people and, directing his comments at unionist members, said, “now you have been exposed”.

DUP Colr Alan Robinson blasted the comments as “rubbish...rubbish”, prompting the chair, Mayor Cathal McLaughlin to call for order.

Colr. McGlinchey said it was “very dangerous times”, and added: “It’s regrettable, but we are where we are.”

Both amendments to the UUP motion failed.