Union flag will not be flown in Belfast for Andrew's birthday following council vote

Union flag will not be flown in Belfast for Andrew's birthday following council vote

The Union Jack will not be flown at Belfast City Hall on Prince Andrew's birthday following a vote against the display on Friday.

Three political parties (SDLP, Alliance Party and Sinn Féin) had called on the flag not to be flown due to sexual abuse allegations that are being directed towards that Prince.

His birthday, 19 February, is on a list of designated dates where the government advises the flag to be flown at council buildings.

The vote passed by 12 votes to 6, with DUP councillors voting against it, and is to be ratified early next month.

The proposal was tabled at the monthly meeting of the council's Strategic Policy and Resources Committee by SDLP Councillor Dónal Lyons, who said he was happy to move the designated day allocated to his birthday to another date so the flag will still be flown the same number of times as in previous years.

"I'm not raising this as a matter of national identity but as a question of what is right and what is wrong and I'd hope that all parties would be clear-headed enough to recognise the problem here," he said.

The DUP has since done a U-turn on the issue, which Lyons has welcomed.

"People across our city were dismayed at the DUP’s initial insistence on flying the Union flag from Belfast City Hall to mark the birthday of Prince Andrew," he said in a statement issued today.

"This would have sent a terrible message, particularly to women and girls in our community in the current climate where we are discussing how men can be more supportive and better allies."

He said the issue was never about stopping the flag being flown from Belfast City Hall, but "about the type of image we as public representatives send to the people of this city."

"Given the allegations facing Prince Andrew celebrating his birthday in any way would have brought shame on our city and this council.

"I am glad that common sense prevailed in the end and I hope to see other councils and the Assembly follow suit in committing not to honour this man," Lyons concluded.

Ulster Unionist Party leader Doug Beattie has also said that his party will support the council in not flying the flag on the Duke of York's birthday.

"We don’t think it’s appropriate to fly the flag," Beattie told BBC’s Talkback.

"This proposal from Belfast City Council puts in a proposal to have an alternative day to fly the flag on July 1 and we absolutely support that.

"As it stands now Her Majesty the Queen has withdrawn all of Prince Andrew’s honours in regards to this. Nobody is saying that you’re guilty. Innocent until proven guilty remains fundamental, but it shouldn’t fly."

The proposal is now for the flag to fly on 1 July to mark the Battle of the Somme.