Council staff could be allowed to wear Easter lilies

Image caption The lily is used to remember republicans who died in the Easter Rising in 1916

Derry City and Strabane District Council is set to become the first local authority to allow staff to wear the Easter lily.

The emblem remembers republicans who died in the Easter Rising in 1916 and in subsequent conflicts.

A council committee has agreed the change in policy. It will go to a full council meeting in December.

Sinn Féin councillor Mickey Cooper said the decision is an "example of inclusive politics".

"This was considered by the working group over a lengthy period of time," Mr Cooper said.

"We took the advice of the Equality Commission and trade unions and this is about giving people the right to wear one.

"There was cross-party representation on the group, including the DUP and UUP, and when the evidence was considered, it was clear that the wearing of Easter lilies - just like the poppy - is entirely consistent with a harmonious and inclusive working environment."

While full council still needs to vote on the proposal it is expected to pass.

'Community tensions'

Mr Cooper added that not everyone who wear an Easter lily is in favour of an armed campaign.

"I wear a lily every Easter and I support the peace process," he said.

DUP councillor David Ramsey said: "The issue is that in recent months motions have been brought before council to create division and here we have it again.

"The Easter lily and the poppy are being seen as being on par. That is not possible.

"The lily can create community tensions whereas the poppy is an international symbol worn by people with different religions around the entire world.

"In recent history, the lily has been used as a symbol for the Provisional IRA and prisoners. That's the issue unionists have."