Legal challenge to 24/7 flags policy


All seven Sinn Fein councillors on the new Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council have submitted a request that the decision to fly the Union flag all year round on Council buildings be “called in”.

“Calling in” a decision means that a request is made for a legal examination of a local government decision on the basis that it may not have adhered to due process or will have a detrimental impact on a section of the community.

Cllr Philip McGuigan said: “The Local Government Act allows for 15% of councillors to challenge any council decision that has a negative impact on any section of the community.

“The decision to fly the Union Flag on Council buildings in places like Ballycastle, Limavady or elsewhere has an impact particularly on the Republican/Nationalist community but also on any citizen in this Borough who can express common sense.

“Even fair minded Unionist citizens in places like Ballycastle and Limavady that previously flew no flags can see that. It is a ludicrous decision and one taken by Unionist councillors who are clearly looking after their narrow sectional interests here rather than the best interests of the whole Council area and all its citizens.

“We have proposed that no flags need to fly on any Council Buildings which should be a neutral and welcome environment for staff to work in and for visitors to visit.

“We have stated our position that we will attempt to challenge this ludicrous attempt to fly the Union flag on council buildings and this is the first step in that challenge.

“This ‘call in’ that Sinn Féin will instigate will force the Council to test this decision legally,” he said.

Meanwhile, independent Republican councillor Padraig McShane said that “an individual from Ballycastle” will “place the Council on notice of motion” regarding the flags policy.

Cllr McShane said: “Legal proceeding have begun as a collective think-tank of republican activists, business men and community leaders held meetings to address the Causeway Coast & Glens Council decision to fly the Union Flag in Ballycastle.

“The meetings were attended by individuals from across the Glens including Cushendall, Waterfoot and Loughgiel and focused on the inadequacies of the new local government format in Nationalist areas.

“Community relations in Ballycastle are of an exemplary nature.”

He also said that the Council decision will be challenged in “Council and the courts” but added that “If that appears to get us nowhere a more direct action will manifest itself to protect these community relations that are the ethos of Republican principles we live out in the Glens.

“The meeting made clear, any flags of colonialism, supremacy and dictatorship will be removed.”