Statement by Sinn Fein on 'Armed Forces' flag at Belfast City Hall
June 24, 2009
“Council flag flying dishonours victims and their bereaved families”
Sinn Féin Councillor Paul Maskey has said that the decision by Belfast City Council to fly a British MoD flag this Saturday, June 27, to celebrate “British armed forces” dishonours hundreds of citizens of this city who have been murdered and is an affront to their bereaved families.
Cllr Maskey said :
“This is another cheap political stunt by the British Ministry of Defence which remains unwilling to explain to families in this city its role and the role of the British Army in the murder of hundreds of Irish citizens. Sinn Féin explained in Council and won the argument at Committee that the British MoD “armed forces flag” should not be flown from our city hall.”
“However , other Councillors held that Committee decision in contempt and reversed it at the full Council meeting. In doing this, all those who have backed this proposal show disregard for the offence which this will cause to the families in our city and in our country who have been bereaved by the British armed forces.
“In response to concerns raised with Sinn Féin by those families, we have requested a meeting with the Mayor of Belfast, Naomi Long, so that the grievance of families bereaved by British state violence can be put to the City’s First Citizen. We will also support the families and campaign groups in making a dignified protest at this political stunt by the British MoD.
“We will continue to work with those bereaved by state murder to ensure that their experience is appropriately acknowledged and that we create a city where their rights are upheld.”
Notes to Editors
In March 2009 , the British Ministry of Defence wrote to Belfast City Council requesting that the Council fly a specially designed British ‘armed forces flag’ for five days at the end of June to mark what the British MoD referred to as British ‘armed forces day’.
The corresponded was taken to the Belfast City Council’s Strategic Policy and Resources Committee in April . Sinn Féin proposed that the British MoD proposal be rejected and that the City Council should not fly its ‘armed services flag’ on the grounds of the divisive nature of the British MoD proposal and its likelihood to offend many citizens of the city. Sinn Féin’s proposal was carried by the Strategic Policy and Resources Committee
In May , the full council considered a report on the matter from the Committee and the DUP argued that the Committee’s position should be overturned and the Council should fly the British MoD’s ‘armed forces flag’ for five days in June. The Alliance party proposed that the same flag should be flown but the display of the flag should be reduced to one day. Sinn Féin reiterated the divisive nature of the British MoD proposal and its likelihood to offend many citizens of the city. Sinn Féin argued that the recommendation of the Strategic Policy and Resources Committee to Council be upheld.
The DUP motion was the put to a vote and supported by Ulster Unionists. Sinn Féin with the support of the Alliance and SDLP defeated that proposal. The Alliance proposal to display the same British MoD flag for one day was then put to a vote and carried , against the opposition of Sinn Féin and the SDLP.