Last year, Causeway Coast & Glens Council voted in favour to support the Foyle Pride, by flying the Rainbow Flag outside their Cloonavin building, the Councils HQ, for one day.
This came after a motion was put forward by the Sinn Fein Councillors to fly the flag in support of the Foyle Pride event. The motion eventually passed at a Special Council meeting with the slimmest of margins despite the debate previously being halted after DUP Councillors ‘walked out’ of the chamber in protest at the last minute addition to Standing Orders.
At the time the DUP defended their decision to ‘walkout’ of the debate, stating:
“(Dup) had to regrettably withdraw towards the end of our june full council meeting because the mayor and sinn fein decided to ride rough shot over procedure by introducing a last minute agenda item which not all members were aware of. This was not acceptable to us as a group and would fly in the face of standing orders.“
For: (21) Alderman Boyle and Hillis. Councillors Baird, Bateson, Beattie, Chivers, Dallat O’Driscoll, Hunter, McCaw, McGlinchey, McGurk, MA McKillop, McLaughlin, McMullan, McShane, Mulholland, Nicholl, Peacock, Quigley, Schenning and Wilson.
Against: (16)Alderman Duddy, Fielding, Finlay, McCandless, McKeown, S McKillop, Robinson. Councillors Anderson, Callan, Holmes, Knight-McQuillan, McAuley, McLean, McQuillan, Scott and Wallace.
Despite the motion passing, the flag was never flown due to a call-in by the DUP.
NOW at Tuesday nights (February 3rd) Council meeting, members will debate the legal option for the ‘Call In request in respect of a decision of the Council dated 6th August 2019 in relation to the flying of A ‘Rainbow Pride Flag’ on Council property’ and will find if its successful or not.
Alliance Councillor and only openly LGBT member in council, Chris McCaw has expressed his disappointment at the call-in, stating:
“I repeat my disappointment that people felt the need to block the flying of a rainbow flag to fly for one day at our Council headquarters. One day is all we were asking.
“We now finally have gay and lesbian couples in Northern Ireland being able to get married, as they should have been able to do a long time ago. How can councilors in this area continue to oppose this simple gesture of solidarity with LGBT citizens?
“I had a lot of people contacting me after this “call-in” to express their hurt and frustration at it. We are elected to work for everyone and that is what we should be doing.”
This call-in has been listed as the final piece of business on the agenda and will take place in private, as its listed as ‘for confidential consideration’.
This legal objection could preempt any debate and decision ahead of flying the ‘Rainbow Flag’ this year outside the Cloonavin Council building.
We asked one of the DUP Councillors backing this ‘call in’, Cllr Ivor Wallace who said:
“I am disappointed in the legal opinion that has been offered. The LGBT community are not in any way disadvantaged by the flag not flying.
“The Christian community feel alienated at every turn. If Christians stand for what their faith means to them they are labelled backward thinking and homophobic.
“My Christian faith and biblical convictions will always come first in all my decisions.”
The Ballymoney Bubble has reached out to Sinn Fein who proposed the original motion to fly the flag for one day and hope to hear from the party in due course.