Don’t fly the Tricolour over County Hall – SP

by Sylvia Pownall
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A FINGAL councillor has warned against flying the Irish flag outside County Hall for fear of offending non-nationals living here.

Blanchardstown-based Cllr Matthew Waine opposed a motion proposed by Cllr Daire Ni Laoi (SF) to hoist the Tricolour at the council’s HQ in Swords.

The Solidarity Party public representative was one of just two who voted against it, suggesting that the red flag of Marxism and Socialism should be flown instead.

He said: “We have one of the most multi-cultural populations in the whole country living in Fingal, and I think we need to consider the sensitivity of this.

“The issue of religion, language, nationality … all of those issues are extremely sensitive and we’ve seen how that can play out to divide people.

“I would prefer to see the flagpoles used to express solidarity, so for example on the week of Pride, we should show the Rainbow flag.

“I think we should fly the flags of minority groups, like Pavee Point.

“I come from the tradition of the workers’ movement which doesn’t see the country of your birth as being anything significant.

“I would prefer to see the red flag fly outside County Hall, and maybe in the future that will be the case.”

His view was supported by Cllr David O’Connor (Ind) who said: “You’re saying what a lot of people think.”

Cllr Brian Dennehy (FF) also said he understood where Cllr Waine was coming from, in that flags can be “used as a wedge to divide people”.

But Fianna Fail’s Cllr Darragh Butler said: “I think it’s staggering that a councillor should say we shouldn’t fly our national flag, or hide our own flag away.”

Independent Cllr Jimmy Guerin said: “I take offence at the comments of Cllr Waine. I’m not surprised at him.”

Cllr Ni Laoi said: “I’d love to see the national flag flying from the turrets of Malahide Castle and Swords Castle and Ardgillen, but for now I’m just proposing that this flag, this symbol of tolerance, inclusion and respect, be flown outside County Hall.”

After a lengthy debate in the council chamber, with the majority of members supporting the proposal, the motion was carried by 34 votes to two.

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