Belfast Telegraph

Bid to overturn flag ban at Northern Ireland St Patrick's parade

By Jonathan Bell

Sinn Fein has launched a bid to overturn a ban on the flying of flags and emblems - including the Irish tricolour - at a St Patrick's day parade this year.

The Strabane parade ban was put in place, the council said, to make the event more inclusive and welcoming to families.

However, Sinn Fein has now said it will seek to over turn the decision.

Councillor Karina Carlin said an event including flags could still be "genuinely inclusive and cross-community".

She said: "The national flag has always formed part of the celebrations in Strabane without any difficulty or controversy.

"We see no reason why that cannot continue and why the national flag cannot be carried as part of the official event to celebrate the national patron saint.

“Council officers made the decision that no flags should be included in the absence of a formal policy on flags and emblems which is not yet in place in this relatively new council."

She added: "However, as the history of this parade has shown, it is perfectly possible to run a genuinely inclusive and cross-community event where flags are carried in a respectful manner.

“Therefore, Sinn Fein’s proposal will seek the inclusion of the national flag in the official parade while also redressing the need for a council policy on this issue going forward.”

Derry and Strabane District Council said it was "committing to promoting the inclusion and integration within and between communities in all its activities, events and programmes"

"In keeping with the paper approved by the council's business and culture committee the event will be a cross-community cultural celebration with a strong family-friendly focus," a spokesman said.

"Therefore flags and emblems will not be included in the official parade which is planned for the enjoyment of everyone."

Despite the measure, one local councillor said it would still not make him attend.

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