BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: UK: Northern Ireland
Front Page 
Northern Ireland 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

BBC NI political correspondent, Martina Purdy
The DUP's flags motion failed to attract cross-community support
 real 28k

Tuesday, 6 June, 2000, 19:33 GMT 20:33 UK
DUP flags motion defeated
Stormont flag
The flying of the Union Flag provoked heated debate
A motion calling for the Union Flag to be flown on Parliament Buildings every day the Northern Ireland Assembly meets has been defeated.

The motion failed to gain the cross-community support necessary for it to be passed on Tuesday.

The flying of flags has become an emotive and divisive issue between republicans and unionists.

Sinn Fein and the anti-agreement Democratic Unionist Party, which put forward the motion, were involved in a bitter debate in the assembly over the flying of the Union Flag.

The motion also called for the Union Flag to be flown on executive buildings on designated days.

DUP leader Ian Paisley condemned Sinn Fein ministers for not flying the Union Flag last week.

Flag fluttering
The flying of flags: An agreed strategy remains elusive
He said the flag should fly at Stormont on the same days as the rest of the United Kingdom.

But Sinn Fein Assembly member Mary Nelis told Mr Paisley that he was fighting a losing battle.

She said that even if DUP leader Ian Paisley "wrapped himself in a Union Jack and was flown from the top of Westminster, the DUP could not stop the changes brought about by the Good Friday Agreement".

The flags motion, which was delayed from Monday's business when business resumed after suspension, was the first item on the agenda at Stormont on Tuesday.

Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness, who is the Northern Ireland education minister, and Bairbre De Brun, who is health minister, angered unionists on 2 May by ordering their civil servants not to fly the flag as part of the Coronation Day celebrations.

Ian Paisley
Ian Paisley: Tabled the motion on flags
Mr Paisley, who tabled the motion with party colleague and social development minister Nigel Dodds, branded Sinn Fein's actions "a disgrace".

Ulster Unionist minister Michael McGimpsey also criticised his Sinn Fein cabinet colleagues' action.

However, Mr McGuinness said on 2 May his party was arguing for mutual respect for both traditions' flags.

He said: "If the Irish Tricolour could not be flown alongside the Union Flag, there should be no flag flown at all."

Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Mandelson has signalled that he may have to exercise the special power at his disposal to rule on the flags issue if the power sharing cabinet cannot reach agreement.

The next designated day on which the Union Flag is flown is 10 June to mark the birthday of the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip.

There are 13 days in the year when the Union Flag may be flown on designated government offices in the UK.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
See also:

05 Jun 00 | Northern Ireland
NI Assembly back after suspension
02 Jun 00 | Northern Ireland
Tempers flare in flags row
02 Jun 00 | Northern Ireland
Sinn Fein criticised over flag stance
02 Jun 00 | Northern Ireland
Tension over flag flying
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Northern Ireland stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Northern Ireland stories