Mid Ulster unionists question legality of ban on poppies as 1,500 sign petition

UUP Cllr Trevor Wilson is questioning the legality of the emblem ban
UUP Cllr Trevor Wilson is questioning the legality of the emblem ban

As the row over poppies, lilies and Mid Ulster Council’s new ‘Irish first’ branding continues, it has transpired that a logo featuring Ulster Scots was also put forward, but not supported by unionists.

And the reason, according to the UUP, was in order to save on printing costs.

Mid Ulster councillor Cathal Mallaghan

Mid Ulster councillor Cathal Mallaghan

In their first act as a super council, a nationalist majority voted to ban the sale of all political emblems on council premises as well as approving their new logo - written in both Irish and English.

And both decisions have caused outrage among unionists.

Since that meeting the DUP has launched an online petition against the ban on poppies at council buildings - which has so far gained the support of just over 1,500 people - while both unionist parties have united to seek legal advice on whether the decision was legal.

Sinn Fein and the SDLP, however, have argued that the ban on political emblems - which also includes the Easter lily - was carried in order to “create a neutral environment” in all council buildings.

“Both unionist parties have now gone for ‘call in’.”

Speaking about the decision, Sinn Fein’s Sean McGuigan said: “The Cookstown, Dungannon and Magherafelt areas had different policies on emblems and symbols and we saw the creation of the Mid Ulster Council as an opportunity for a fresh start.

“We wanted to create an environment of equality and neutrality in council-owned facilities.”

The UUP’s Trevor Wilson, however has condemned the decision, which he called “unlawful”.

He told the Mail: “Both unionist parties have now gone for ‘call in’ - that is where we seek legal opinion on whether the decision taken is lawful and doesn’t discriminate against one section of the community. We are awaiting the outcome of that.”

On the subject of Mid Ulster’s logo, chair Cathal Mallaghan said: “The council should help promote Ulster Scots. When the matter was put to the floor of the chamber, no one from any party spoke in favour of Ulster Scots.”