Unionist anger after Union flag motion blocked by nationalists

Interim chair of Mid Ulster District Council Cáthal Mallaghan has defended a decision not to debate a Union flag motion
Connla Young

NATIONALISTS in Mid Ulster have blocked a motion to fly the Union flag from council buildings to mark Queen Elizabeth’s 90th birthday next month.

DUP councillor Clement Cutherbertson has proposed a motion calling for the flag to be flown from all council buildings to mark the occasion on June 11.

Mr Cutherbertson said the motion was “in line with the government’s designated days for Union flag flying”.

The council, which takes in former local authority area of Magherafelt, Cookstown and Dungannon, has a no flag policy.

Before the motion could be debated at a monthly meeting on Thursday night, Sinn Féin group leader Ronan McGinley proposed that it go straight to a vote.

That motion was carried with the support of Sinn Féin and the SDLP and as expected when Mr Cutherbertson’s motion then went to a vote it was defeated 23 to 11 with nationalists voting against and unionists in favour.

DUP group leader Paul McLean said he was “extremely disappointed” with the outcome.

“Sinn Féin and the SDLP talk about inclusion and it’s quite obvious this council has set a standard,” he claimed.

“It is not inclusive and unionist tradition and culture is not accepted in Mid Ulster.”

Sinn Fein interim chair Cáthal Mallaghan said his party moved straight to the vote because a similar motion had been “discussed in quite a bit of detail last year”.

SDLP councillor Tony Quinn said his party voted against the motion.

“Our stand as a party always is and always will be two flags or no flag and that has never been accepted,” he said.

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