The DUP’s group leader in Mid Ulster has said Mid Ulster District Council’s decision not to fly the Union Flag at half-mast following the death of HRH Prince Philip simply adds “insult to injury” for the district’s unionist community.
Councillor Paul McLean made the claim in a strongly worded email sent to Council’s chief executive, Adrian McCreesh criticising the local authority’s controversial decision.
The email, seen by the Local Democracy Reporting Service, also calls on Sinn Fein to show “they have the guts to mark this occasion in a tangible way”.
“I believe the failure to fly the Union Flag at half-mast as a mark of respect following the death of HRH The Prince Phlip, Duke of Edinburgh, is totally disrespectful to the Royal Family and flies in the face of what Sinn Fein leaders have been advocating in recent days,” reads the email.
“Words and rhetoric are cheap, with regards to respect, equality, integrity and tolerance, but actions are meaningful.
“Sinn Fein as the largest group within Mid Ulster District Council have the ability to show by their actions, that they mean what they say; remembering that every day that passes is a missed opportunity.
“I suppose its whether or not they (Sinn Fein) have the guts to mark this occasion in a tangible way, is the question.”
Councillor McLean also says the decision not to fly the flag at half-mast has simply added “insult to injury” within the district’s unionist community.
“Unionists have been continually offended by Sinn Fein’s constant erosion of their culture since the formation of Mid Ulster District Council,” he said.
“However, the refusal to accept this request at this very sad time has just added insult to injury.
“What the DUP have requested is not unreasonable or insurmountable and something that MUDC should immediately reconsider.”
On Monday, April 12, Mid Ulster District Council confirmed it would not be flaying the Union Flag at half-mast from its civic buildings as it currently has a ‘no flags’ policy and does not fly flags on any occasion.
In response to the comments made by Councillor McLean a Sinn Fein spokesperson said the decision was in line with Council policy.
“It has been the policy of Mid Ulster Council not to fly any flags since the Council’s creation in 2015,” a Sinn Fein spokesperson said.
Meanwhile, the DUP are not the only party unhappy with Council’s decision not to fly the Union Flag at half-mast from its civic buildings.
The former group leader of Mid Ulster’s UUP, Councillor Trevor Wilson has called on Sinn Fein to reverse this decision.
“The Union Flag is flying at half-mast at Stormont and much has been made of the comments of condolence by the Sinn Fein leadership,” said the Cookstown councillor.
“It is a great pity that such sentiments have not permeated down to Sinn Fein in Mid-Ulster, where that party has refused to allow the Union Flag to be flown at half-mast on our Council buildings.
“I fully understand that the Council has a policy of no flags, but this can be set aside in exceptional circumstances.
“I would certainly argue that occasion of the death of the Queen’s Consort, who has ruled beside her for almost 70 years in a lifetime of service and duty, constitutes exceptional circumstances, and the Union Flag should be flown at half-mast as a mark of respect.”
Councillor Wilson also noted how decisions taken in Mid Ulster cast a great degree of doubt on claims the British and Unionist identity would be welcomed in any form of future ‘United Ireland’.
“This decision makes it extremely difficult to believe the promises that Sinn Fein would do great things to accommodate the British and Unionist identity in some future United Ireland, when they can’t even manage to accommodate it in the United Kingdom,” he warned.