Republican council workers to be allowed to wear Easter Lily

Easter Lily
Easter Lily

Republican council workers who wish to commemorate the 1916 Rising by wearing an Easter Lily look set to be allowed to wear the emblem in the week before Easter Sunday next year.

A recommendation to approve the wearing of the Easter Lily was backed by a majority of members of Derry City & Strabane District Council's Governance and Strategic Planning Committee on Tuesday.

The committee specifically agreed to "the wearing of the Easter Lily for one week leading up to Easter Sunday" and "the wearing of the Poppy for one week inclusive of Remembrance Sunday and Armistice Day".

The decision was taken after the Council's Decade of Centenaries Working Group was tasked with considering a motion brought by the Independent Councillor Paul Gallagher in April 1916 that had proposed that, “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”.

Following over two years of deliberations the working group has now recommended that the wearing of lilies and poppies in the workplace for an appropriate period of time, subject to consultation with employees, be permitted.

Independent Councillor Gary Donnelly, who seconded Colr. Gallagher's original motion, said: "The motion wasn’t passed but council set up a working group which I am pleased that as a result of a recommendation made from that working group and if passed at Full Council in a few weeks time Council employees will be permitted to wear the Easter Lily for one week leading up to Easter Sunday. Maith thú Colr. Gallagher."

Sinn Féin Colr. Mickey Cooper also welcomed the approval, stating: "Delighted that Sinn Féin's proposal that council employees be allowed to wear the Easter Lily in an appropriate manner within the workplace on an equal standing with the Poppy has been passed at the Governance Committee.

"Until this point only the Poppy was allowed to be worn by Council employees - a groundbreaking move by Derry & Strabane District Council which will see the Lily treated with the respect it deserves."

Colr. Cooper, who sat on the working group, continued: “This was considered by the working group over a lengthy period of time during which we took the advice of the Equality Commission and trade unions.

“There was cross-party representation on the group, including from the DUP and UUP, and when the evidence was considered, it was clear that the wearing of Easter Lillies – just like the Poppy – is entirely consistent with a harmonious and inclusive working environment.

“All parties on the working group endorsed the recommendation to introduce this policy and that is clearly a positive example of inclusive politics working in practice. I now look forward to the proposal going forward to the next full Council meeting in December.”