Northern Ireland news

Union flag will not be flown from government buildings across the north to mark Prince Andrew's birthday

Prince Andrew has agreed to pay an unknown sum to Virginia Giuffre after she launched a civil action in the US courts
Connla Young

THE Northern Ireland Office has said the Union Flag will not be flown from government buildings to mark the birthday of Prince Andrew this weekend.

Details emerged days after the Duke of York agreed to pay an undisclosed sum as part of a settlement with abuse victim Virginia Giuffre.

Ms Giuffre had been suing the prince as part of a civil assault case in the US courts, claiming he sexually assaulted her on three occasions when she was 17.

Ms Giuffre also claims she was a victim of sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, who died in a US prison in 2019.

Prince Andrew had denied the claims repeatedly and has made no admission of liability.

The Union Flag is flown in the north on a number of designated days throughout the year and was traditionally hoisted to mark Prince Andrew's birthday.

Earlier this week Belfast-based law firm Brentnall Legal threatened court action against Secretary of State Brandon Lewis and Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey on behalf of a victim of sexual abuse over their "failure to refrain" from "commemorating/honouring" the royal.

In response a Crown Solicitor's Office official referred to revised guidance issued by the British government last week, which includes the removal of Prince Andrew's birthday from the list of designated days.

Legal representative Ciaran Cunningham, of Brentnall Legal, last night said: “We are greatly relieved that our client has sought and received assurances on this issue.

"The prospect of any flag being raised to salute a figure like Andrew Windsor risked retraumatising him and other victims of sexual abuse and so presented an unacceptable infringement on their dignity and right to private life.”

A spokeswoman for the UK government last night confirmed the Union Flag will not be flown from NIO-controlled buildings to mark Prince Andrew's birthday tomorrow.

"The 2022 list of designated days for flag flying states that HM The Queen’s birthday and the birthday of HRH The Prince of Wales are the only Royal birthdays to be observed for the purposes of flying the Union Flag," she said.

In recent weeks it has been confirmed that the flag will also not be flown from Parliament Buildings at Stormont or at Belfast City Hall tomorrow.

It will now be flown on July 1 to mark the anniversary of the Battle of the Somme.

It has also emerged that a local council is also set to debate changing the title of street named after the royal.

It is expected a motion will be brought to East and Antrim council to alter the name of Prince Andrew Way, which is in Carrickfergus.

Prince Andrew is known by several titles including the Duke of York and Baron Killyleagh, which is in Co Down.

It has been reported that some residents now want him stripped of the title.

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