SDLP councillor Dónal Lyons has said he is disappointed that DUP councillors have rejected his proposal that Belfast City Hall not fly the Union Flag to mark Prince Andrew’s birthday.
Councillor Lyons had proposed that the flag not be flown on February 19, given the allegations the Duke of York is facing.
He suggested working with unionist councillors to find a more appropriate alternative day to fly the flag, so no designated days would be lost.
The proposal passed at a meeting of the council’s Strategic Policy and Resources Committee on Friday by 12 votes to 6.
SDLP Group Leader Councillor Lyons said:
“It’s extremely disheartening that despite my attempt to find a solution that would accommodate all parties, while saving the council from the spectacle of honouring someone facing the allegations before Prince Andrew, the DUP has obstinately rejected the proposal and seems adamant on pushing council to recognise this man.
“I cannot see why any councillor would want to fly the Union Flag from City Hall to mark the birthday of Prince Andrew. He has been stripped of all his royal duties, military honours and his family have distanced themselves from him due to the controversy surrounding him, but still the DUP want to see him honoured in Belfast.
“I would urge the DUP to seriously consider the impact this decision would have and the message it would send to women in our society. We have heard much conversation recently about the need for men to stand up and act as allies and call out unacceptable behaviour towards women and girls when we see it. To honour Prince Andrew in the current climate would bring shame upon our council and our city.
“This matter will come before full council again in February and I would ask every councillor to back my proposal. I am more than happy to help facilitate an alternative day for the flag to be flown so the unionist community do not lose out on a designated day. We have a duty as councillors to speak out and represent everyone in our community. To allow the flying of the Union flag to go ahead to mark Prince Andrew’s birthday would be a retrograde step.”