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Belfast councillors agree to fly flag in honour of Harry and Meghan


The flag flies at the City Hall on Saturday afternoon

The flag flies at the City Hall on Saturday afternoon

The flag flies at the City Hall on Saturday afternoon

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex' wedding brought about a rare display of harmony at Belfast City Council, as its party leaders agreed to fly the Union flag on the City Hall in the couple's honour on their wedding day.

Royalists had noticed that the flag was not flying on the City Hall on Saturday, as the nation prepared to celebrate the royal wedding.

The flag's absence was soon picked up on social media, and a campaign to get it up in time for Meghan and Harry's vows spread like wildfire - even though the wedding was not one of the 21 'designated days' on which the Union flag is to be flown on the City Hall flagstaff.

Alliance Party group leader on the council, Michael Long, explained how the snap decision was made - and implemented.

"It was very straightforward," he said.

"I think yesterday morning it was realised the flag wasn't flying, and a few people made requests to do so.

"All the party leaders were asked if they were happy for the flag to fly, and I was happy from our point of view.

"It was an important day and we had no issues with it flying to mark the happy occasion.

"I believe that all of the party groups were willing to do that.

"All the party group leaders were contacted - and it went up in time for the wedding.

"We've always been a party which supports respect for the flying of the Union flag, and we were happy for it to fly to mark the occasion."

Technically, the Alliance councillor said, the request should have come before a council committee for approval, but "obviously there wouldn't have been time to have a committee meeting, and so it was left to the six party group leaders to agree," he explained.

In a statement, a Belfast City Council spokesman said: "May 19 is not a designated day. However, following requests from some members of council on Saturday, cross-party support was sought and agreed to fly the flag to mark the royal wedding. Staff ensured the flag was flying from before the royal wedding ceremony began."

But DUP councillor Dale Pankhurst said he was "disgusted" that the flag had not been erected without pressure from councillors. "Disgusted that the flag wasn't flown for the royal wedding until well after 11am today at City Hall," he tweeted.

"Credit to all those who complained. I will be raising this with staff at the highest level to ensure it doesn't happen again!"

There are 21 official 'designated days' on which the Union flag is to be flown from Belfast City Hall.

The next occasion will be on Coronation Day - June 2.

Belfast Telegraph