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Belfast City Hall to fly union flag in celebration of Prince Andrew's birthday despite pushback

A council motion was rejected by the DUP today.

Image: PA

BELFAST CITY HALL is set to fly the union flag next month in celebration of Prince Andrew’s birthday despite serious pushback from councillors.

SDLP councillor Dónal Lyons has said he is disappointed that DUP councillors have rejected his motion that City Hall not fly the flag to mark the prince’s birthday.

Lyons had proposed that the flag not be flown on February 19, given the allegations that the royal is facing. He said he would have worked with unionist councillors to find another day to fly the flag, so no designated days would be lost.

Lyons said: “It’s extremely disheartening that despite my attempt to find a solution that would accommodate all parties, while saving the council from the spectacle of honouring someone facing the allegations before Prince Andrew, the DUP has obstinately rejected the proposal and seems adamant on pushing council to recognise this man.

“I cannot see why any councillor would want to fly the union flag from City Hall to mark the birthday of Prince Andrew. He has been stripped of all his royal duties, military honours and his family have distanced themselves from him due to the controversy surrounding him, but still the DUP want to see him honoured in Belfast.”

Virginia Giuffre, also known as Virginia Roberts, alleges she was trafficked by disgraced British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell to be molested by financier Jeffrey Epstein and his friends.

Giuffre claims Andrew had sex with her against her will at Maxwell’s London home and at Epstein’s mansion on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

The royal is also alleged to have abused Giuffre on another occasion during a visit to Epstein’s private island, Little St James, and on a separate occasion at Epstein’s Manhattan mansion. He denies all the claims.

Regarding the flag issue, a similar controversy happened last year which resulted in the flag being flown. However, Andrew at that time still held his military honours.

Lyons urged the DUP to consider the impact this decision would have and the message it would send to women in society.

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“We have heard much conversation recently about the need for men to stand up and act as allies and call out unacceptable behaviour towards women and girls when we see it. To honour Prince Andrew in the current climate would bring shame upon our council and our city.”

In a statement, the DUP Group Leader, Alderman Kingston said. “We should abide by the Council’s policy of implementing the flag days designated by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sports at Westminster.

“We are certainly not blind to the allegations of gross misconduct by Prince Andrew and we share in the deep concern about these, but we should await the outcome of the trial.

“We are also aware that the SDLP and Sinn Féin have form on the flying of the Union Flag from our City Hall, that they voted to remove it completely, every day of the year, in 2012, so we are not blind to that either.”

Belfast City Coucil has been contacted for comment.

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