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Assembly Commission 'hypocrites' if they review events but not flags and symbols

10 March, 2008

North Antrim Sinn Féin MLA Daithí McKay has said that if the Assembly is going to be blocked from being a shared public space then it should become a neutral space.

Mr McKay was speaking after the DUP, UUP, Alliance and the SDLP blocked a Sinn Féin event to celebrate the life of Mairead Farrell in the Long Gallery in the Assembly.

Mr McKay said:

"In a mad rush to ban Sinn Féin from hosting an event in the Long Gallery last week t political parties have now inadvertently banned the media from recording coverage of the Assembly debates on Monday and Tuesday. This is hardly democracy in action when political parties have the ability to stop members of the public from watching local government in session, whether they intended to do so or not.

"The Assembly Commission has engaged in much talk about Good Relations, but when it comes to Good Relations you cannot pick and choose what aspects of Good Relations you wish to implement. The fact of the matter is that Government Buildings are totally one-sided and reflect the Unionist community and its culture and history.

"If this building is to become neutral in terms of events that are held here, then it must also become neutral in terms of symbols, in terms of flags and in terms of paintings and statues which predominantly depict leaders of Unionism and political figures who oversaw gerrymandering and a system where most nationalists were not allowed to vote.

"Unionists have engaged in the same sort of censorship that Margaret Thatcher and the British Government used in years gone by, which is totally undemocratic. If they are to be consistent in their new policy then they must not only apply it to Sinn Féin events, they should also apply it to flags which are flown from this building and the dominant statues of Unionist politicians, and founding UVF members, Edward Carson and James Craig. To do otherwise would be totally hypocritical." ENDS

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