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Unionists lodge complaint over flag


Belfast City Council could face legal action over its decision to restrict the flying of the Union flag, the Democratic Unionist Party said today.

The change to only hoisting the flag on designated days like royal birthdays was endorsed by nationalists and the cross-community Alliance Party at the start of December.

Since then dozens of police officers have been injured by missile-throwing loyalists as ugly scenes erupted in Belfast and other parts of Northern Ireland. The DUP opposed the change and has now lodged an equality complaint with the Council. John Hussey, DUP secretary on Belfast City Council, said the party has submitted a formal complaint to the council that it is in breach of its equality scheme.

“We believe that, both in its processes and in its decision over the removal of the Union flag, Belfast City Council made multiple breaches of its published and legally required equality scheme,” he said.

“This is the first step towards a formal complaint to the Equality Commission and ultimately possible legal action.”

Until last month, the flag flew every day of the year from the City Hall. Disputes over flags and symbols have been a regular occurrence in Northern Ireland and the shift to flying the flag on 18 designated days a year has sparked some of the most sustained unrest since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.

A council spokeswoman confirmed it has received a formal complaint from the DUP about an alleged breach of its equality scheme.