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Flags controversy erupts in Northern Ireland

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The Union Flag, which flew over Belfast City Hall last year to mark the Duchess of Cambridge's birthday

The Union Flag, which flew over Belfast City Hall last year to mark the Duchess of Cambridge's birthday

PA

The Union Flag, which flew over Belfast City Hall last year to mark the Duchess of Cambridge's birthday

The flags controversy has erupted in Northern Ireland again as a council voted to erect a Union flag every day of the year.

A Union flag is flying at Craigavon Civic Centre - unionist-controlled Craigavon Council's offices - following the controversial vote last night.

On April 1, Craigavon will merge with Banbridge Council and Armagh Council to form a new super-council and that body does not yet have a flag policy.

A council source said: "In recent years Craigavon Council's policy was to fly the Union flag on 17 designated days each year but the status quo is now that it is flown every day from the flag pole at the Civic Centre and it will be in place before 9 o'clock on Tuesday.

"The new super-council will hold its meetings at the Civic Centre and although it has yet to agree a policy on the flag it is anticipated that in the meantime until that decision is taken the Union flag will be in place until then."

The decision to fly the flag every day was proposed by the DUP and backed by the Ulster Unionists while a Sinn Féin proposal that no flags be flown was rejected.

Craigavon Council's DUP group leader Carla Lockhart has welcomed the decision.

She said: "This is the right decision for the council as it recognises our national flag and that the borough is part of the United Kingdom."

Ms Lockhart said the decision to have the flag flown all year round only on the main council building was a "compromise" as the original position was for seven locations.

She said: "This compromise on our original proposal of seven locations will strike the right balance between acknowledging Northern Ireland's constitutional position and not causing offence to those who oppose it.

"By making this decision I trust it will go some way to reducing the number of flags placed on lamp-posts which ultimately become torn."

Craigavon Sinn Féin councillor Gemma McKenna described the year-round Union flag decision as "illogical and most likely illegal as it flies in the face of advice from the Equality Commission, legal advice and advice from the council's chief executive".

Belfast Telegraph