Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 26 October 2014

DUP fury as Union flag driving licence plan may not apply to Northern Ireland

A DUP MP has expressed anger after Downing Street suggested Northern Ireland could be excluded from plans to display the Union flag on driving licences.

David Cameron has announced plans to put a symbol of the United Kingdom — likely to be the Union flag or a royal crest — in place of the current EU flag.

But the Prime Minister’s aides later said that Northern Ireland could be excluded from the scheme. This would mean Northern Irish licences would continue to carry the EU flag.

This prospect got an angry reaction from Nigel Dodds, the MP for North Belfast.

“I would remind Mr Cameron that he came to Northern Ireland a number of times and proclaimed himself to be a unionist.

“Unless he wants to be accused of another major U-turn, he should apply the same policy right across the UK,” he said.

The previous Labour government resisted the move, amid concern about opposition from Catholics in Northern Ireland.

Sinn Féin MLA Caitriona Ruane said putting the Union flag on licences here would be “short-sighted and divisive”.

“In relation to flags and emblems the Good Friday Agreement was very clear. It demanded that symbols and emblems are used in a manner which promotes mutual respect rather than division,” she said.

Mr Cameron told journalists that having the blue-and-gold flag on licences was the kind of interference from Brussels which “infuriated” Britons.

“They know that our flag is the Union Jack and not the EU flag,” the Prime Minister said.

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