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New Union flag row overshadows Belfast Sinn Fein mayor’s night

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Loyalist Willie Frazer at a flag protest outside Belfast City Hall in February.

Loyalist Willie Frazer at a flag protest outside Belfast City Hall in February.

Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

Loyalist protestors carrying Union flags block the back of the City Hall in Belfast where councillors are debating whether or not to keep the flag flying at City Hall. Currently the flag is flown every day of the year at the building. Nationalist councillors want it removed as they argue that this would create a more equal and neutral environment. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday December 3, 2012. Photo credit should read: Paul Faith/PA Wire

Loyalist protestors carrying Union flags block the back of the City Hall in Belfast where councillors are debating whether or not to keep the flag flying at City Hall. Currently the flag is flown every day of the year at the building. Nationalist councillors want it removed as they argue that this would create a more equal and neutral environment. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday December 3, 2012. Photo credit should read: Paul Faith/PA Wire

PA

Weeks of sporadic loyalist rioting in East Belfast followed December's decision to restrict the flying of the Union flag from Belfast City Hall

Weeks of sporadic loyalist rioting in East Belfast followed December's decision to restrict the flying of the Union flag from Belfast City Hall

PA

A woman puts up her Union flag umbrella on Brighton Beach in East Sussex on the first day of the May Bank Holiday

A woman puts up her Union flag umbrella on Brighton Beach in East Sussex on the first day of the May Bank Holiday

PA

A total of 229 people have been arrested over the Union flag protests

A total of 229 people have been arrested over the Union flag protests

PA

Continuing flag protests have not deterred competitors from signing up for the World Police and Fire Games

Continuing flag protests have not deterred competitors from signing up for the World Police and Fire Games

PA

A PSNI officer has been injured during loyalist rioting in Belfast

A PSNI officer has been injured during loyalist rioting in Belfast

PA Wire/Press Association Images

Flag protesters in the snow at Belfast City Hall Saturday March 23 2013

Flag protesters in the snow at Belfast City Hall Saturday March 23 2013

PACEMAKER BELFAST   16/02/2013

A loyalist protest over the union flag took place outside Seaview football ground on the Shore Road in Belfast, before the match started. Trouble flared on the road and the match between Crusaders and Cliftonville was cancelled.

Photo Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press

PACEMAKER BELFAST 16/02/2013 A loyalist protest over the union flag took place outside Seaview football ground on the Shore Road in Belfast, before the match started. Trouble flared on the road and the match between Crusaders and Cliftonville was cancelled. Photo Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press

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Loyalist Willie Frazer at a flag protest outside Belfast City Hall in February.

A new ‘flag’ row is set to emerge at Belfast city council’s AGM tonight as a high-profile Sinn Fein politician is formally installed as Lord Mayor.

The top post and Mayoral chain is expected to go to newspaper publisher and the party’s Balmoral representative Mairtin O Muilleoir.

But unionists, still seething over the removal of the Union flag, are to demand that another standard is hoisted over the City Hall for SIX days later this month.

And this time Alliance are set to vote with the other unionist parties to fly the flag.

The emblem in question is the Armed Forces Day ensign, which has obvious elements of the Union flag.

The Armed Forces Day — formerly Veterans Day — is an annual event throughout the UK to raise public awareness of the contribution of military personnel both past and present.

It also gives the nation the opportunity over a six-day period to show support and

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thank the men and women who make up the armed forces community.

The motion to raise the flag will be proposed by the DUP and backed by other unionist groups. But it will face strong opposition from Sinn Fein councillors.

Ulster Unionist member Jim Rodgers said yesterday: “We did get it through for all six days for the first time last year with the support of the Alliance Party.

“But given their more recent actions in the council chamber it’s anyone’s guess how they’ll vote this time around.

“It is only an emotive issue because Sinn Fein is determined at all costs to remove anything British from our national culture and identity.”

But Alliance councillor Mervyn Jones rubbished Mr Rodgers’ claims and said that Alliance have discussed the proposals and will be voting in favour of flying the Armed Forces Day flag.

“This is just another attack on the Alliance Party and an attempt to stir things for absolutely no reason,” he said.


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