Northern Ireland council’s Pride flag hailed as ‘phenomenal’ move
A local council is set to make history next month by flying the Pride flag above its civic buildings.
Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council will be the first out of Northern Ireland's 11 council areas to mark Pride Day by raising the rainbow flag at its three main centres on August 4.
The move comes after a notice of motion brought by Sinn Fein narrowly passed 12-11 at a full council meeting on Monday evening.
Each of the remaining councils have since confirmed to the Belfast Telegraph that to date no official requests have been received by their respective chambers to mark the annual festival in the same manner.
Belfast City Council, however, will be lighting up City Hall in rainbow colours next Saturday to coincide with the Pride parade, a spokesman confirmed.
The decision by ABC council has been hailed as an important milestone by Gavin Boyd, policy officer of the Rainbow Project group in Belfast.
He said yesterday that it was another sign that the province as a whole is becoming more liberal in its attitudes towards the LGBTQ+ community.
"(This is) one of the most phenomenal things I've heard taking place to mark Pride this year," said Mr Boyd.
"Visibility is key to those in the LGBTQ+ community who may be facing isolation or difficulties.
"It's really excellent that Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon are showing their participation in this way."
Sinn Fein Councillor Darren McNally - who brought forward the motion backed by ABC party colleague Liam Mackle - said he was "delighted" the council had supported their proposal, despite opposition from DUP members and UUP councillors opting to abstain from the vote.
Mr McNally added that while it was a "small gesture", it was one that is deeply important to ABC citizens who are part of the LGBTQ+ community - some of whom, he added, had informed him of hate attacks occurring recently in the borough.
"Huge steps forward towards full equality have been made in recent years but there is still more to be done and actions such as this, although small, are an important symbol of solidarity," he said.
"It's important that we show solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community and send a clear message that inequality and discrimination of any kind is simply not tolerable."
The council is also following in the footsteps of the Government which flew the flag at its Stormont House building last August on the orders of the then Secretary of State, James Brokenshire amid the long-running political debate on whether same-sex marriage legislation should be extended to Northern Ireland.