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DUP shifts stance on flying Union flag for Prince Andrew’s birthday

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Prince Andrew

Belfast City Hall - Union Flag Flying - 20th January 2013 - Presseye Mandatory Credit Picture By Declan Roughan - Presseye The Union Flag was flying at Belfast City Hall yesterday to mark the 48th Birthday Of The Earl Of Wessex's wife Sophie

Belfast City Hall - Union Flag Flying - 20th January 2013 - Presseye Mandatory Credit Picture By Declan Roughan - Presseye The Union Flag was flying at Belfast City Hall yesterday to mark the 48th Birthday Of The Earl Of Wessex's wife Sophie

Brexit...UUP leader Doug Beattie during a press conference at Stormont. Picture date: Thursday September 9, 2021. PA Photo. See PA story POLITICS Brexit. Photo credit should read: David Young/PA Wire ...A

Brexit...UUP leader Doug Beattie during a press conference at Stormont. Picture date: Thursday September 9, 2021. PA Photo. See PA story POLITICS Brexit. Photo credit should read: David Young/PA Wire ...A

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Prince Andrew

A DUP councillor has indicated he would support flying the Union flag at Belfast City Hall to mark the Battle of the Somme or celebrate the NHS instead of the Duke of York’s birthday.

Brian Kingston’s comments come after a row broke out at Belfast City Council last Friday over flying the flag on February 19.

Ulster Unionist leader Doug Beattie said yesterday his party will support the council in not flying the Union flag to mark Andrew’s birthday.

The SDLP, Alliance and Sinn Féin said that should not happen due to sexual assault allegations against the Duken.

But the DUP voted against the motion at the council's Strategic Policy and Resources Committee last Friday. 

However Mr Kingston, its group leader on the council, said later they would support flying the flag on July 1 to mark the Somme anniversary, or a day to mark the NHS – a suggestion put forward by Alliance.

Andrew’s birthday is part of a list of designated days when the government advises that the Union flag can be flown at council buildings.

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Brexit...UUP leader Doug Beattie during a press conference at Stormont. Picture date: Thursday September 9, 2021. PA Photo. See PA story POLITICS Brexit. Photo credit should read: David Young/PA Wire ...A

Brexit...UUP leader Doug Beattie during a press conference at Stormont. Picture date: Thursday September 9, 2021. PA Photo. See PA story POLITICS Brexit. Photo credit should read: David Young/PA Wire ...A

Brexit...UUP leader Doug Beattie during a press conference at Stormont. Picture date: Thursday September 9, 2021. PA Photo. See PA story POLITICS Brexit. Photo credit should read: David Young/PA Wire ...A

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Although the decision is still to be ratified by the full council, Mr Beattie said a decision not to raise the flag would be the right one.

“We don’t think it’s appropriate to fly the flag,” the UUP leader, a former soldier in the Royal Irish Regiment, told the BBC’s Talkback.

“This proposal from Belfast City Council puts in a proposal to have an alternative day to fly the flag on July 1 and we absolutely support that.”

Prince Andrew faces a US civil action over sexual assault allegations – claims he has consistently and strongly denied.

Belfast City Hall has flown the Union flag on designated days since a vote in December 2012 to end its permanent display.

“It is inappropriate to fly the flag,” Mr Beattie said.

“As it stands now Her Majesty the Queen has withdrawn all of Prince Andrew’s honours in regards to this. Nobody is saying that you’re guilty. Innocent until proven guilty remains fundamental, but it shouldn’t fly.”

Mr Kingston said much of the DUP’s concern had been over the lack of information received by his party ahead of last Friday’s meeting.

“The DUP’s position remains that we want the Union flag to fly every day in Belfast as it does for the majority of councils across the UK,” he said.

“Sinn Fein and the SDLP are only using this issue to remove another flag day. Our concern is that next year this day will be dropped all together. We do need clarity on the details. Will this be a one-off? Will there be support for that on a permanent basis?”

Mr Kingston said that assurances were still needed on an alternative date.

“We would support July 1 to mark the Battle of the Somme, or a day to mark the NHS,” he said.

“That is our position. Regrettably, for all the talk of working together, the SDLP did not have the courtesy to communicate with us in advance of the committee meeting last Friday to seek an agreed way forward.

“We share concerns about the seriousness of the allegations of misconduct by Prince Andrew.”

SDLP councillor Donal Lyons welcomed what he described as a “DUP U-turn” and said he was glad common sense had prevailed on the issue.

“The DUP’s belated change of stance in this is welcome, as is the support for this move from the UUP,” he said.

"Despite claims by the DUP that they were blindsided by my proposal, we were open and transparent from the start, I made this proposal in advance of last week’s council meeting, including my offer to work with unionist councillors to find an alternative day to fly the flag.”

On the Alliance Party proposal, councillor Nuala McAllister said there would have been little time for council to ratify any decision had it not been brought forward in the committee meeting.

“Had this been brought forward at council we would have had to wait until March for it to be ratified and that would have been too late,” she said.

“We have followed proper process, but this is a non-argument. We’re all on the same page. It is council’s responsibility to reflect the feeling in society,” she added.

“There are serious questions around his judgment.”

She added: “The Alliance Party has said that the flag should fly on an alternative date. We are not trying to stoke any fires.”


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