No flagging as protest goes on

A Loyalist pressure group is planning to march on Motherwell Civic Centre in protest at a vote to fly the Irish flag over council buildings.

Wednesday, 17th February 2016, 2:23 pm
Updated Wednesday, 17th February 2016, 3:09 pm
A Loyalist pressure group says it will demonstrate outside Motherwell Civic Centre despite there being little chance the Irish tricolour will be flown in April.

The demonstration is set to go ahead this Saturday despite North Lanarkshire councillors making it clear they will overturn the controversial decision.

The Glasgow-based Regimental Blues also defended making public addresses and phone numbers of councillors who supported the request to mark the centenary of the Easter Rising in Dublin.

News of the 8-6 vote in favour at the corporate services committee was broken on the Motherwell Times website last Thursday.

Six SNP councillors joined two from the Labour ranks to push through the request from Irish republican group Cairde Na hEireann to fly the flag on council buildings on April 24.

However, the decision has to be ratified by the full council next month and on Monday the ruling Labour group agreed to vote against it.

Council leader Jim McCabe said: “Labour councillors recognise the tremendous contribution that Irish people and Irish culture have made to North Lanarkshire and Scotland.

“However, we do not support a change in existing policy which would go against guidance issued by the Scottish and UK Governments.”

The SNP group, which also met this week, refused to say if it has had a change of heart, but it’s clear it cannot now win the vote.

SNP group leader David Stocks admitted he had been “overwhelmed” by complaints about the committee vote, but slammed some objectors for their “shocking” level of abuse.

He admitted some members had been shaken by a statement from Regimental Blues which included the councillors’ contact details and promised they would be “remembered” for what they had done.

Councillor Stocks added: “We’re unhappy about that.”

A spokesman for Regimental Blues said the contact details were public knowledge and insisted demonstrations across North Lanarkshire will go ahead despite Labour’s pledge to vote against the flag being raised.

He stated: “Labour councillors defied the party line at the committee and it could happen again at the full council.”