Council to vote on illuminating Belfast City Hall in Irish flag colours to mark birthday of President Michael D Higgins

Tricolour illumination was agreed by a council committee following request from member of the public

Belfast City Hall lit up in the club colours of south Belfast GAA club Bredagh as its members gathered to mark its 50th year
Belfast City Hall lit up in the colours of south Belfast GAA club Bredagh in 2022 to mark its 50th year.

Belfast City Hall could be lit up in green, white and orange to celebrate the President Michael D Higgins’ birthday, following an agreement by a council committee.

Members of Belfast City Council’s Strategic Policy and Resources Committee unanimously accepted a request by a member of the public to illuminate the building in the colours of the Irish Tricolour to mark President Higgins’ 83rd birthday on April 18.

The request will now be voted on at the next week’s full council meeting.

A council report said the member of the public noted Belfast City Hall is illuminated with red, white and blue to mark King Charles’ birthday.

President Michael D Higgins
President of Ireland Michael D Higgins. PICTURE: BRIAN LAWLESS/PA (PA)

“In recent years members have approved previous illuminations received from members of the public that do not meet the criteria approved by members (four in 2021, one in 2022 and one in 2023).”

The report states the colours were “not stated in request” but added council officers were “presuming green, white and orange.”

The council report states an estimated £10,000 per annum is spent in staffing costs for additional illuminations approved.

Belfast City Hall first installed its ‘intelligent’ flood lighting system in 2013, allowing the building to be illuminated in different colours to mark occasions or celebrate causes
Belfast City Hall's flood lighting system was installed in 2013.

DUP councillor Bradley Ferguson said at the committee meeting: “I am not making further proposals on it, but reading (the report) it says (the request) came in from a member of the public. I am wondering how this process comes about?

“Because if it is just one member of the public (required), we could get a bit carried away – we could have requests every day of the week.”

Alliance councillor Eric Hanvey said the council should contact the President’s office to enquire about protocol.

City Solicitor Nora Largey said: “We don’t generally accept requests from members of the public, but we have on occasion in the past, so it hasn’t been applied as a very, very hard rule. I think it is something we need to address whenever we bring forward a review of policy.”

Currently, 10 agreed days for illuminating Belfast City Hall take place annually to mark occasions, along with extra days to mark council-run events and charities nominated by the Lord Mayor, Deputy Lord Mayor and Belfast’s High Sherriff.

‘Governance arrangements’ allow for illuminations in other speficic circumstances where approved by the Strategic Policy and Resources Committee.