THE former lord mayor of Belfast, Alban Maginness MLA, has said that it is “extremely disappointing" that the Irish Tricolour was omitted from an array of flags outside a new Orange Order cultural museum.
The Grand Orange Order Lodge of Ireland formally opened a major new interpretative centre in East Belfast in June 22.
A number of national flags were flown at the official opening but not the Irish Tricolour.
Mr Maginness, an SDLP councillor, said: “I understand that the flags represent the nations that are home to Orange Lodges and in that respect, it would seem natural that those in the South are recognised.”
Former Irish President, Mary McAleese, who is from Belfast, was at the opening and made no comment about the controversy surrounding the omission of the flag.
But a veteran unionist councillor in East Belfast has offered an explanation for the Orange Order’s decision.
Tommy Sandford (DUP) told the Belfast Newsletter that it would have been “offensive” to most people in the area.
In further opposition to Alban Maginness' comments, UKIP’s Bob Stoker accused the former lord mayor of “talking a lot of nonsense”, adding that the SDLP had voted to restrict the flying of the Union Flag at Belfast City Hall.
Councillor Sandford told the BBC’s Nolan Show: “There is no Grand Lodge of the Republic of Ireland so therefore there is no flag to represent them...there is no slight against the many Orangemen in the Republic of Ireland.”