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Council investigating tricolour in chamber 'stunt'

By David Young

Published 24/06/2015

Councillors Darren O’Reilly, Gary Donnelly and Padraig McShane with Mohamed Al-Halabi (second left) and flags in council chamber
Councillors Darren O’Reilly, Gary Donnelly and Padraig McShane with Mohamed Al-Halabi (second left) and flags in council chamber

Causeway Coast and Glens Council is establishing an internal investigation after a councillor displayed an Irish tricolour and a Palestinian flag in the council chamber.

The controversy erupted after photographs emerged of independent councillor Paudie McShane and his guest Mohamed Al-Halabi, international director of co-operation for the municipality of Gaza, seated in the Coleraine council chamber - with the flags draped across the table in front of them.

Mayor Michelle Knight-McQuillan said she felt that the goodwill of her office and of the council had been misappropriated.

"This was childish, schoolboy behaviour, designed to cause offence," the DUP representative told the Belfast Telegraph.

"People are expected to behave with respect in the council chamber, but that's not what happened on this occasion," she said.

An investigation is now under way to establish whether the code of conduct to which all local government councillors sign up has been breached, as well as the council's standing orders, the Mayor said.

Mr McShane said last night that he was unaware of any investigation into the event or into his conduct. "This is the first I've heard of it," he said.

"This is all about identity.

"People have an identity, and I will not be allowing anyone to delegitimise my or anyone else's identity."

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