Northern Ireland

Council to hold special meeting on Armed Forces flag

Armed Forces Day flag
Image caption The MoD has requested that the Armed Forces Flag be flown at Belfast City Hall for a week

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.

However, 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.

Earlier in the 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, the Sinn Fein leader on Belfast City Council, Jim McVeigh, said he would be unhappy for the flag to fly for even one day and that it would cause offense to many in the nationalist community.

Some other councils in Northern Ireland, including Derry City Council, did not receive any request to fly the Armed Forces Day flag this year.

Armed Forces Day is on Saturday, 30 June. 2012 will be the fourth year of the event.

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