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Wednesday, 4 April, 2001, 14:55 GMT 15:55 UK
Row over assembly Easter lilies move
Easter Rising
Scene from film footage of 1916 Easter Rising
The Northern Ireland Assembly Commission has voted to allow Easter lilies to be displayed in Parliament Buildings at Stormont.

The lily is viewed by many republicans as a symbol which commemorates the 1916 Irish republican Easter Rising.

Sinn Fein has welcomed the move, but Democratic Unionist Party assembly member Jim Wells has said he intends to try to have the decision overturned.

The abortive 1916 rising is one of the main dates commemorated in the republican calendar.

Parades are held annually to mark the event.

Amendment

After a long debate at Stormont on Tuesday, the commission, which is responsible for running the building, voted to support an amendment allowing the display of the traditional republican symbol in the central hall.

The commission is made up of one representative of each of the four major parties, plus Alliance member Eileen Bell who represents the smaller parties. It is chaired by the Speaker, Lord Alderdice.

Afterwards, Ms Bell said: "The display of flowers for a week, when incidentally the assembly is in recess, seems to me to set a precedent which, for example, opens the door to those who wish it to apply to have a display of orange lilies to be shown at the Twelfth of July."

Sinn Fein MLA Dara O'Hagan had put forward the original motion calling for the Easter lilies to be sold at Stormont on behalf of the National Graves Association, which looks after the republican plot at Milltown Cemetery in Belfast.

After the meeting, Ms O'Hagan said: "We welcome this compromise to display the lily to commemorate the Easter Rising. It's an important decision for the principle of parity of esteem."

But the DUP's Jim Wells said it was unacceptable and that he would try to have the decision overturned.

Mr Wells said: "I am totally opposed to that because that is a symbol commemorating terrorists who have died in action, terrorists who have been shot by members of the security forces.

"The last thing we should have in the assembly at Stormont is any form of commemoration to dead terrorists."

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10 Jun 00 | Northern Ireland
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