9 June 2005 Edition
DUP superbigots in flags row
Sinn Féin councillor Paul Butler is accusing the DUP, the dominant party on Lisburn City Council, of promoting sectarianism and alienating nationalists in the city after they voted at a council meeting on Tuesday 31 May to fly the Union flag permanently on all council flagpoles.
In the wake the decision, Butler has told An Phoblacht that council workers have erected a Union Jack in the middle of Dunmurry.
"This is an act of sheer provocation", says Butler. "Dunmurry Ward is 80% Catholic and every year, during the marching season, nationalist residents suffer wholescale intimidation. The strategy of the DUP to hoist these flags at this time is provocative and reckless and based on nothing other than good old fashioned bigotry."
Until this week, the union flag had been flown on council flagpoles on only 17 designated days and when unionist councillors ruled three years ago that July 11 and 12 should be added as designated days they landed themselves in trouble, as they were in breach of Equality Commission regulations.
Lisburn Sinn Féin Councillor Paul Butler told An Phoblacht that unionists are now trying to turn Lisburn into a 'Protestant town for a Protestant people'.
"I will be in contact with the Equality Commission to inform them of the latest change to the council's flag policy," he says.
Butler adds that Lisburn Council has always had the reputation as being the most sectarian council in the North but this latest ploy proves that it is "full of super bigots".
"The message this is sending out to potential investors is that sectarianism is alive and well in Lisburn and will do nothing to improve community relations. One third of the city's population is nationalist. How are my constituents going to feel when they see the Union flag fluttering from every council flagpost?"
Butler will be meeting solicitors to plan a legal challenge to the flag ruling.