Removal of Princess Diana mug and other British symbols ‘still rankles’
THE removal of the union flag and other symbols of Britishness from Limavady Borough Council a number of years ago - “even a Princess Diana mug” - has caused “great resentment” amongst Unionists.
That is the verdict of East Londonderry MLA George Robinson, who was speaking during a debate on whether to establish an ‘Ad Hoc Committee’ at Stormont to “deal with issues surrounding flags, emblems, symbols and language” in light of recent disorder.
Local MLAs Gregory Campbell and George Robinson contributed to the debate, both voicing their opposition to the proposals.
Mr Robinson said: “At the commencement of my contribution, let me make it clear that I am proud citizen of the United Kingdom. As such, I firmly believe that our nation’s flag — the Union flag — should fly on all public buildings in Northern Ireland, including this Building. However, recent events have shown the world that some parties have demonised the Union flag while promoting the flying of a foreign flag. That is called hypocrisy.
“I am saddened that our country’s flag does not have its rightful permanent place flying over this Building. Yes — 365 days of the year. I also include in that British emblems and symbols that are housed in this Building.
“In this Building, Ministers, regardless of what party they come from, carry out British parliamentary-style procedures and decide on local changes to British laws. That proposed legislation requires Royal Assent to become law, yet we cannot fly the national flag over the Assembly Building on a permanent basis.
“It saddens me that, although British rule and law is administered in this Building, the national flag is flown only on designated days to pander to the needs of some parties who want to achieve nothing else but the removal of a legitimate emblem of the United Kingdom.
“As a unionist, I am not blind to the fact that this motion is a cynical attempt to hide the moves in Belfast City Hall and some other council-owned buildings throughout Northern Ireland. In my council in Limavady, the Union flag and other symbols, even a mug belonging to Princess Diana, were removed by the republican/nationalist bloc a few years ago, and that has caused great resentment in the unionist community ever since.
“Members should also remember the indefensible violent response that their actions in December provoked in the wider unionist community.
“In my experience, people of all religious and political beliefs do not have a major problem with the flying of the Union flag, but they are perturbed that it has become a political football for the enemies of Ulster.
“I believe that it is a great sadness that a Committee such as the motion proposes is even mentioned, and I am sure that Members will understand why I cannot and will not support the motion. The Assembly Commission is the place where this topic needs to be debated.”
Mr Robinson’s DUP colleague Gregory Campbell also spoke on the issue, saying: “The factual position in law is that Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom. I know that the Member for South Down does not like that and does not want that, but she has to accept that. That is the reality. It does not matter how many Ad Hoc Committees she wants established or how many votes she wants, because that is the reality. It is not going to change next week, next month, next year or any time in the future.”
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Tuesday 21 May 2013
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