SF opposing exclusion of flags from St Patrick’s Day parade in Strabane

Sinn Fein is calling for the St Patrick's parade in Strabane to be exempted from council policy of no political emblems.
Sinn Fein is calling for the St Patrick's parade in Strabane to be exempted from council policy of no political emblems.

Sinn Fein is to formally oppose Derry City & Strabane Council’s policy of excluding political flags from the annual St Patrick’s Day parade in Strabane.

The move comes after the council was asked to take over responsibility for the event this year.

Up until NOW the parade has been independent of any council and has traditionally carried Irish tricolourS.

However this year Derry City & Strabane Council has taken over responsibility and is insisting the event now abides by council policy on excluding political flags - as is normal in the annual Londonderry city parade.

A council spokesman said: “In keeping with the paper approved by the Council’s Business and Culture committee the event will be a cross-community cultural celebration with a strong family friendly focus. Therefore flags and emblems will not be included in the official parade, which is planned for the enjoyment of everyone.”

However Sinn Fein Councillor Karina Carlin said her party will oppose the policy for Strabane with a formal motion.

“The national flag has always formed part of the celebrations in Strabane without any difficulty or controversy,” she said. “We see no reason why that cannot continue and why the national flag cannot be carried as part of the official event to celebrate the national patron saint.”

However DUP Alderman Thomas Kerrigan said unionists did not feel able to take part in the Strabane event up until now due, to the “signs of republicanism” and tricolours .

“Last year sections of the community in Strabane took it over,” he said. “It is remarkable that Londonderry can have a St Patrick’s Day Parade every year with no problem. It is only in Strabane that they have to turn it into a republican parade.”

It is understood political flags are also excluded from the Belfast, Newry and Downpatrick council parades.