Northern Ireland news

Belfast city councillors vote not to fly Union flag at Belfast city hall to mark Prince Andrew's 62nd birthday

SDLP councillor Dónal Lyons has said he is disappointed that DUP councillors rejected his proposal that Belfast City Hall not fly the Union flag to mark Prince Andrew’s birthday. Picture by Mark Marlow/PA Wire
Marie Louise McConville

BELFAST city councillors have voted not to fly the Union flag at city hall next month to mark Prince Andrew's birthday.

The proposal passed by 12 votes to six at a meeting of the council's Strategic Policy and Resources Committee.

While the SDLP, Alliance and Sinn Féin voted in favour of the proposal, six DUP councillors voted against.

The decision will go before a full council hearing in February.

The flag had been due to be flown on February 19, to mark the prince's 62nd birthday.

However, SDLP councillor Donal Lyons proposed, given recent controversy surrounding the prince, that this should not go ahead.

Andrew is facing a civil sexual assault case in the US. He strongly denies the allegations.

The Balmoral councillor said he was disappointed that the DUP had not voted in the favour of the proposal.

He called on the party to "seriously consider the impact" of its decision.

Mr Lyons said he could not see "why any councillor would want to fly the Union flag from City Hall to mark the birthday of Prince Andrew" after he had been "stripped of all his royal duties".

"It's extremely disheartening that despite my attempt to find a solution that would accommodate all parties, while saving the council from the spectacle of honouring someone facing the allegations before Prince Andrew, the DUP has obstinately rejected the proposal and seems adamant on pushing council to recognise this man," he said..

"I would urge the DUP to seriously consider the impact this decision would have and the message it would send to women in our society.

"We have heard much conversation recently about the need for men to stand up and act as allies and call out unacceptable behaviour towards women and girls when we see it. To honour Prince Andrew in the current climate would bring shame upon our council and our city".

He added: "This matter will come before full council again in February and I would ask every councillor to back my proposal".

Brian Kingston, DUP council group leader, said: "The position of the DUP councillors is that we should abide by our policy to abide by the days designated by the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport at Westminster.

"We are certainly not blind to the allegations of gross misconduct against Prince Andrew and we share in the deep concern about these allegations, but we should await the outcome of the trial," he said.

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