St Patrick's Day: Flags 'not banned from Strabane parade'

Irish flag Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Derry City and Strabane District Council initially said flags and emblems would not feature this year's parade in Strabane

The Irish flag can be included in Strabane's St Patrick's Day parade, despite a previous statement by organisers saying flags and emblems were banned.

Derry City and Strabane District Council said in a statement last week that "flags and emblems will not be included in the official parade".

A spokesperson said it was to promote "inclusion and integration".

However, council clarified on Monday that there is no ban in place.

There were angry exchanges in the council chamber on Monday after the mayor Maolíosa McHugh brought the discussion to a close.

Mayor McHugh said: "I took control of the meeting to ensure that it wouldn't deteriorate into a slagging match about flags and emblems.

"Derry City and Strabane District Council does not have a flags and emblems policy at present."

Sinn Féin councillor Karina Carlin said: "I was very glad and relieved when the chief executive was able to reassure me that there was no such ban.

"St Patrick's Day is a celebration of all things Irish and St Patrick.

"There's no reason why flags shouldn't be flown in the Derry parade too."

Image caption The council initially said the Strabane celebrations would have a similar family friendly focus to the St Patrick's Day Carnival in Derry

DUP councillor David Ramsey told BBC Radio Foyle: "None of this has been good for community relations.

"St Patrick is the patron saint of Christianity in this area. He is not a Catholic or Protestant saint.

"There is a minority of people in Strabane creating issues. All town centres are supposed to be neutral."

About £30,000 of funding has been allocated to the Strabane parade which will follow a shorter route than in previous years.

More on this story