Sinn Fein challenge Union flag policy with ‘call in’

Sinn Fein Councillor Dermot Nicholl. 2810JM02
Sinn Fein Councillor Dermot Nicholl. 2810JM02

Sinn Féin have revealed they are taking the first steps in challenging plans to fly the Union flag from the former Limavady Borough Council headquarters, and the Roe Valley Arts and Cultural Centre.

The move follows a recent decision agreed at Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council that would mean the Union flag would fly for 365 days of the year at civic buildings throughout the new super council borough, including in Limavady at the former council offices on Connell Street and at the Arts Centre on Main Street.

Sinn Fein Colr. Dermot Nicholl said the party was using a “call-in” mechanism under the Local Government Act (Northern Ireland) 2014 to test the decision. Colr. Nicholl said the local government act “allows for 15 per cent of councillors to challenge any council decision that has a negative impact on any section of the community” bu using a call in, which means a requisition for the reconsideration of a decision.

Colr. Nicholl said the flags policy that was agreed at Causeway Council won’t help community relations.

“We think this only stokes up tensions, and it does nothing to help community relations,” Colr. Nicholl told the ‘Journal’.

“There is no logic in this policy because for 10 years in Limavady there was a ‘no flags’ policy, while in Moyle there has always been a ‘no flags’ policy in place. There is no logic in this, and it does nothing to help when we are trying to move forward, not backwards.”

Colr. Nicholl said while his party’s prefered option would be to have no flags flying, he said they had offered to work towards reaching an accommodation with unionists, but he said that offer was “dismissed”.

“I think there are elements within all sections of the community that feel the flying of flags can have a negative impact on communities commercially, and from a tourism point of view,” added Colr. Nicholl.