New Mid Ulster council bans sale of Remembrance poppies in council buildings

Poppy appeal

Poppy appeal

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Political emblems including Remembrance Day poppies will not be stocked at the new Mid Ulster Council buildings, councillors have decided.

The policy was passed at last week’s meeting of the shadow Mid Ulster Council by 24 votes to 15, as one of the first political steps taken by the new super council.

They are part of a range of interim policies implemented to tackle the divisive issues of flags, emblems and minority languages such as Irish.

The decision reveals the stark reality of the new council’s political make-up, which has an overwhelming nationalist majority.

However, the controversy is set to see further twists and turns given that the critical policies, which have to be decided by each of the new super councils, will only be permanently implemented after a lengthy process of public consultation.

In the interim, the new council Chief Executive Anthony Tohill tasked the chamber of representatives to come up with a set of temporary measures.

Sinn Fein Councillor Sean McGuigan said that he hoped the interim policies would help create a neutral environment for all the citizens of Mid Ulster, and that there should be no political emblems promoted by the council.

His party’s proposals were supported by SDLP councillors.

However, DUP representative Paul McLean, whose party opposed the policies, said: “We believe that poppies are representative of both communities and thus should be available on council property.”

Deputy Presiding Chair, Ken Reid warned: “This decision does not give a promising outlook for both communities of Mid Ulster, irrespective of who is the larger or smaller.

“We should exercise caution in the future when we are trying to draw down peace money funding, as it is clear that we are not showing good leadership and relationship building.”