‘If this was any other country we wouldn’t be having this debate’ - the words of TUV councillor William Blair as he spoke on the issue of flags at last week’s Causeway Coast and Glens Governance Committee.
The Ballymoney TUV man was speaking as members heard that the new Council would have its own flags policy, but that the process, which would include consultation with members, would take up to nine months.
At the meeting, members were asked to adopt the policies of the four legacy councils in relation to flags, until the new policy could be adopted.
Moyle Sinn Fein councillor Kieran Mulholland said that his party ‘welcomed’ the consultation. He added: “We are in favour of equality, our position is clear, it’s both flags, or no flags.”
Councillor Mulholland added that his party had a ‘major issue’ with the unofficial flag that is being flown at the Coleraine Borough Council depot. He said: “this needs to be looked at.”
Moyle Independent councillor Padrig McShane told the meeting that the only flag he wished to see was ‘the blue flag on the beach’. “Let’s be sensible here,” he said. “The only way forward is neutrality.”
Coleraine UUP councillor David Harding proposed the recommendation put forward by Chief Executive David Jackson, that the policies of the legacy councils should be carried over. His proposal was seconded by UUP colleague, councillor William King.
Putting forward an amendment, TUV councillor William Blair said: “The union flag should be flown every day. If we were in any other country we wouldn’t be having this debate. I propose that the flag is flown 365 days a year on all council properties.”
His amendment was seconded by Coleraine PUP councillor Russell Watton.
Coleraine SDLP councillor Maura Hickey supported the UUP proposal to let things be as they are until the new council has its own policy.
She said that she ‘looked forward to the process’, but, she too raised the issue of the unofficial flag at the Depot saying: “This is a delicate issue. We as a party have major issues with the unofficial flag.”
On being put to a vote, councillor Blair’s amendment fell, six members voted in favour, whilst seven voted against.
Councillor Harding’s proposal to roll over the policies was carried.