Belfast City Council will hold a special meeting on Thursday night to debate a motion calling for the Armed Forces flag to be flown at the city hall. It follows a request from the Ministry of Defence to mark Armed Forces Day by flying the flag for a full week.
The letter from the MoD arrived too late to be discussed by the full council. In previous years, Belfast City Council has flown the flag for one day only.
SDLP councillor Tim Attwood said he would oppose the motion. “There are many citizens who support the armed forces, many who lost their lives and many who were injured, but we know the role of the armed forces in the north has been particularly difficult. “As a party that is opposed to violence and opposed to war in Afghanistan and Iraq, we have consistently opposed the flying of the Armed Forces Day flag over City Hall.”
General Sir David Richards from the Ministry of Defence wrote to councils across the UK asking them to fly the flag from Monday 25 June
Although the letter was dated 2 April 2012, Belfast City Council did not receive it until 11 June. The full council is not scheduled to meet before 30 June, so a council committee has been tasked with coming to a decision on the flying of the flag.
Early last week, DUP councillor Lee Reynolds said his party would be supporting the MoD’s request, as they have done in previous years.
He said it was wrong to presume that the flag would cause offence to nationalists.
However, many of Non GFA organisations including eirigi and independent Republicans are very much opposed to the suggestion due to the crown force’s history of ‘Murder, torture, collusion and it’s continued assault on the innocent nationalist communities of the occupied six counties’.