A legal challenge brought by an Independent councillor has forced a U-turn over plans to fly the Red Ensign of the Merchant Navy in Limavady on Thursday September 3, Merchant Navy Day.
Independent Councillor Padraig McShane took a legal challenge against the decision, describing the Red Ensign of the Merchant Navy as an “imperialist” flag.
“There will be no flags flown in Limavady or Ballycastle,” he said.
“Historically the policy in Ballycastle was a no flags policy and that has been the case in Limavady as well for some time.
“When the council made the decision to put the Red Ensign up they were pre-empting the outcome of the equality impact assessment on the council’s own flags policy.
“The reason the legal challenge went in is because everything I see in council is very British, very militaristic.
“I’m talking about all the proposals, all the motions, everything they are voting to support.
“There will be mutterings about it being the Merchant Navy flag but it is an imperialist flag that stems from the Royal Navy. It stems from Empire and it stems from Imperialism.
“We want to protect community relations. The legal challenge was very important to say that the old-school unionist triumphalism isn’t going to happen.
“The legal challenges will come thick and fast if the council isn’t mature enough to make decisions that respect equality.
“It will find itself in court again and again if it continues. I hope there is a lesson from this legal challenge.
“I know it is difficult for unionists to row back but they shouldn’t have rowed forward in the first place.”
An email sent to all councillors informed them of the decision.
The email read: “Following Council’s decision to fly the Merchant Navy ensign flag, a legal challenge was received.
“Legal Advice was sought regarding the challenge, and as a result the Council will not now fly the red ensign flag from any Council building in Ballycastle and Limavady on Thursday, September 3.”