THE DUP has jettisoned a proposal to fly the Union flag at Belfast City Hall’s cenotaph.
The party proposed the motion as an alternative after a council vote to reduce the number of days the flag flies at City Hall.
But during consultation the motion failed to get support from other parties and the Royal British Legion (RBL) also didn’t want the cenotaph to become embroiled in a political row.
The motion was rejected by a council committee two weeks ago and at Wednesday’s meeting there was no vote on the issue.
DUP Councillor Lee Reynolds said he was “deeply disappointed” by the outcome.
“It became clear that we weren’t going to going to be successful in getting the cenotaph proposal through, but what we made clear tonight was a problem was created for this city on December 3,” he told UTV.
“We put forward a solution, others wouldn’t support it but that means we still have the problem and people are going to have to face up to that. If people are expecting unionists to just forget about it, they’re wrong.”
Cllr Reynolds said the Alliance Party had let them down, as he claimed the party had initially supported the move.
“Whenever we proposed it we were given private and public assurances that we would be successful. Another party has gone back on what it said privately and publicly,” he said.
“It’s not an issue we will just allow to disappear into the background, there will be an equality commission complaint pursued, internal processes around policy that we will pursue and there will also be an election coming up and a new council with new powers.
“We will use all those tools to advance the British identity in this city.”
Alliance Councillor Maire Hendron criticised the DUP for playing politics with remembrance.
“I am disappointed the DUP has again raised this issue, especially when the RBL has publicly outlined its opposition to the proposal,” she said.
“This move is clearly about keeping the flag debate on the agenda, but in doing this the DUP has proved it is prepared to play politics with remembrance.”
Cllr Hendron added: “It is clear from what DUP representatives have said tonight, that they do not respect the right of other parties to have their own position on issues, or the democratic process when decisions are made.
“When it comes to the Union Flag at Belfast City Hall, Alliance stands firm that any changes to the number of days it flies must be determined by the Westminster Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).”
Sinn Féin councillor Niall Ó’Donnghaile said the council’s decision was the right one.
“I think there is a general consensus certainly amongst most of the parties at council and indeed with the British Legion, who made it very very clear that they do not want the issue of the cenotaph politicised,” he said.
“People should be viewing the fact that decision to fly the flag on designated days was the original compromise, so if we’re serious about equality and serious about representing all the people of Belfast, then we need to move beyond the issue solely of flags.”
“What we need to do now is move beyond the flag issue and get back to business of delivering investment in Belfast.”