Belfast Telegraph

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

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

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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